There is always something or someone who has sparked an idea for a poem, a story, or an essay. As a writer, you have to learn how to follow that muse to wring all the information you can out of your brain. Sometimes it can be a sunrise. Sometimes it can be a pothole. Whatever provides that spark is yours to follow.
Music, to me, gives me all kinds of great inspiration for both poems and stories. When I hear a good song, or just a good melody, it often sparks that part of my brain that says, “Hey, I think there’s a story there.” Music often sets a mood or tone to develop a piece. It can be rock, country, jazz, classical, or any other type of music; it just all depends on what creates that spark. It can be Merle Haggard or Mahler. It can be “Stairway” or “Stardust.” If it strikes a chord within you (pun intended), then follow it and see where it leads.
Conversation is another centerpiece for the muse. Eavesdropping is a writer’s friend. I once heard a conversation at the next table while I was eating dinner that sparked a poem about love and loss and heartache that ended up being about the death of my uncle. It didn’t start that way. I wasn’t thinking about my uncle, and I wasn’t thinking about writing a poem about him. It was simply a piece of someone else’s conversation that I happened to overhear that got me to thinking about my uncle’s untimely passing and what he meant to me. I followed the muse and finally opened up emotions within me that I hadn’t realized were there.
Whatever strikes that spark, don’t give up on it. It’s easy to get bogged down or blocked and throw up your hands. Sometimes a poem or story has to have thrown-up hands to get to the sure-fire center of the piece. But don’t let that spark leave. Hang on to that muse. It may come back the next day, or it may not come back until months later. Just let it guide you as it may. Keep that muse stored in the back of your mind. It will always work itself out.