While on the It Starts With Us blog (which, by the way, you should have a look around, maybe join the cause, it's a good one) I saw this video.
It's a video, in the words of Dan T Cathy (president of Chick-fil-A), that 'we created to remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience. "Every life has a story if we only bother to read it."' (Video ©2010 Chick-fil-A)
This is true of course, but why I'm citing it has less to do with customer satisfaction and more to do with writing. I recommend you watch the video of course, not just read this, but the gist of it is that everyone has a story, that woman with the children, that elderly couple, that smiling employee. As a writer, you don't go up to people and ask them, 'what is your story?' Maybe you see someone in the street and think, hmmm. Then you go home and remember them, and wonder why they were there, at that time, with that expression, wearing that outfit? And more often that not, you get a story, or a character, that you can use.
So the next time you are stuck for an idea, just look around you. Every life has a story, if you only care to imagine...
P.S. My blog was one year old on the 6 July 2010. Wow.