In my little town, (<8000 people!) there is this elderly man who daily gets up with the birds and wanders around to local businesses and attractions, takes photos, then uploads them to the local Facebook group, and shares his very strong opinions in ALL CAPS. He’s been known to question receptionists at local plants as to what exactly that company does. He’ll tell you about the best sale at the only grocery store (and how he’ll cook all that ground beef he got for $1.99 a lb!) And he posted a photo of the town clerk’s office, when the staff was out to lunch, and complained, again in ALL CAPS, why no one was there. (Did not go well!) He has other antics, but I don’t have time to list them all here. Which, believe me, is your loss.
He is quite the character, and you better believe I’m going to use him in a story someday. And not just him, but my town, it’s wetland areas, it’s Rail Trail, it’s history, and its quirkiness will all be a part of a future work.
Have you checked out the resources that your town may have? You might find some intriguing ideas for a writing prompt, a seed of a story, or even just general observation.
Try this in your small town:
1. Ask your local library for what events they have. Even if they aren’t in your field, go anyway and just write about anything interesting.
2. Look up your town on Wikipedia. It’s likely that there’s a history to your town you are unaware of. Write about it.
3. Look up trails and go exploring. You never know what you can find.
4. Look up high school events like plays, music, or sports events. And even if the talent in your town is lacking, go anyway and just write about everything you see. You might be impressed.
5. Take a stroll downtown and pay attention to the businesses and the people who work in them. In our town, I found it interesting that the local high school kids’ bus stop for getting to the tech school is right in front of the vape shop. (I’m so going to write about that someday!)
6. Join your town’s community Facebook group. Trust me when I tell you that there are characters, discussions, and comments that you will want to write about. (Pro tip: change the names and descriptions. Or hire a good lawyer.)
7. Find local community events. In New England, it seems to be a tradition that small towns host live concerts every week in the town square. What does your town do? Find a local paper or website and show up, especially to the stuff that is free.
8. Attend a local worship service. Even if you aren’t a regular churchgoer, often there is artistry and beauty in a mass or church service. Most last around an hour. And they’re free. And a moment of contemplation never hurt anyone.
9. Volunteer at a retirement center. There will be plenty of people there who will tell you of everything that has changed in that town since they were younger. You’ll probably find a wealth of story ideas.
10. Visit the cemetery. Look for family names, prominent citizens, veterans and think about what life was like in your town when the dead were alive.
I do not have the luxury of big-city sophistication (even though Boston is an hour away) but I believe that there is a lot of inspiration in my little town. I can’t wait to get out into it and find all the inspiration.