Children and adults ask me, "Where do you get your story ideas?" I simply respond with, "From life." Yes, it's a vague answer, especially if someone is expecting a lofty, revolutionary, lights-beaming-down-from-the-heavens kind of answer; but that doesn't happen to me.
Sometimes I experience something in life that I feel I must write about or I'll die if I don't, like when my family hiked six miles across the lava beds in Hawaii to see Kilauea erupting. Sometimes I see something that I've seen a million times before differently, like one morning when I noticed that my ceiling fan resembled a starfish. And sometimes I overhear (okay, eavesdrop) on conversations that give me food for thought, like the time an elderly couple walked past me on the street. They were licking ice cream cones when the man said, "Well Honey, this sure smells like fish but it tastes like chocolate!" Okay, I'll come clean. This is my little writer's secret—I love to eavesdrop on strangers (shhh...don't tell anyone). It's amazing what people say when they think no one is listening (and what a great way to develop an ear for dialogue too).
My point is that story ideas are all around us. I keep a small notepad and pen with me so I can jot down those "light bulb" moments of inspiration and later add them to my "Ideas" folder. During those rare times where I'm stuck in the mud pit of writer's block, I can go to my folder, pick an idea, and write about it. Maybe it will turn into something—maybe it won't; but at least I get my mental wheels turning and my hand moving.
What's your best story inspiration? I welcome you to share with me!