This past weekend my wife and I visited a home improvement show.
After attending the show last year, we bought a set of replacement windows and had our house painted. So did our son and daughter-in-law.
But this year, we don't have any home improvements budgeted. So why attend?
To get ideas. Even if we don't initiate any projects right away, we'll have fresh ideas—of what we might want to do and also what we don't. Until we're ready to take action, those ideas we gathered can percolate in our minds. What we eventually decide will be better than what we could have chosen on our own.
Where do you go to get writing ideas—not only for your work-in-progress, but also for what you want to write next? Besides reading other authors to see their techniques, where do you find plot elements, lifelike characters, evocative details, and realistic dialogue that you haven't already stored in your idea stockpile?
You can't get ideas from aisle 7 of a big box store. But neither do you have to worry about whether they'll fit in your minivan.