I'm always a bit surprised when writers tell me they can't think of anything to write about. My problem is that there just aren't enough hours in the day! Yesterday, for example, standing in the post office queue with my little pile of sample chapters to send to agents (cross your fingers please, for me!) I watched a woman terrorising her toddler with threats to leave her in the shop. Got to be a story in that, I thought.
The older woman in front of me in the queue murmured, 'Patience is a virtue.' I nodded. After a few seconds she turned to me again and said, 'Do you know the whole saying?' I didn't. Bet you didn't either:
Patience is a virtue,
Try it if you can.
Rarely seen in woman,
Never in a man.
I walked home trying to decide whether to start with the story about the differences between male and female patience, or whether it would be best to write about a woman who makes patience into a virtue but by being patient actually turns it into a vice, or whether I should start with a non-fiction proposal to a writing journal about the forgotten lines in common sayings and proverbs ... Four writing ideas from the post office queue.
Writers who can't think of anything to write about aren't using their eyes and ears, let alone their imagination.