I don’t know about you but I often try to find ideas in the everyday mundane things that seem to surround me at my day job. It seems like that might be hard but with a little boredom in your presence and some imagination in your mind you can find the creative juju you need in anything. Believe me, I realize how boring everyday work/life can be but think of the great things we’ve seen come out of that boredom.
Do you work in an office? Well then I’m assuming you’ve at least watched the Office (either BBC or American version), and the Mike Judge film Office Space. Both of these obviously point to things that are commonly found in a typical office and they make some minor changes to make them funnier. Worked in retail? Clerks, Employee of the Month are prime examples where someone took something boring and normal and made it something interesting and funny. I myself have seen things around here that made me think of things that are amusing or, taken toward my own creative slant, horrific. It’s true because of my predisposition toward the horror genre I tend to view things in a different light finding scary scenarios or situations as opposed to amusing anecdotes that form the basis for more comedic endeavors.
So what things are occurring around you that you’ve always taken for granted? The mail guy does he have some weird tick about him or does he seem jumpy? Is it because he used to be a spy or just a caffeine addict or is he up to no good? All three can make for an interesting scenario or form the basis for a character in your latest creation. It’s these things that can help. Whether you use what you observe for a character you are creating or whether you want to create a livened up version of your own reality for others to enjoy you can take what you observe on an almost daily basis. Take a few of the people you encounter daily and throw them into different situations, how do you think they would react/interact? This can form the basis for your work. Most of the characters I’ve created are based on people I know, usually taking an amalgamation of traits from different people in order to create a more rich character tapestry. Also in order to limit cast, creating amalgams can help by presenting multiple faceted characters rather than the twenty actual people you pulled from.
Aside from the people you encounter, the situations you encounter can also be ripe for the picking. When you deal with people in any capacity you find situations arising that you never thought you’d witness. I for example witnessed two elderly ladies fight over a dress, one going so far as to strike her competitor with her walking cane. Not the traditional little old lady behavior. I’ve had friends with stories more outlandish than that but they actually occurred. I would share these but some are just disgusting and they are not my stories to tell (although if you want a good one ask my friend Luke about the bird’s nest in the men’s fitting room at Sears). People will always surprise you which leads to situations you may never have considered. Also a fun little trick, which I would often use when I would cashier if the customer would not pay attention to me, was to start telling them an outlandish story. My favorite was: “There I was just me and the chimp in the Sahara surrounded by Silverbacks.” Very few people ever asked for me to complete the story and the ones that did were never the ones I was talking to. Me and that chimp had some crazy adventures, but that’s another set of stories. So needless to say if you were a customer two lines over and heard me talking what would you think? I assure you the customer would have formed their own scenario for the story, and sometimes when you witness a disjointed scene while shopping or working you can come up with great creative bits by trying to explain the situation and determine the backstory to the event.
So I suppose to surmise my point, don’t take anything for granted. Anything you witness can become a creative exercise or lead you to enrich the current creative project you are engaged in. So keep your eyes open and your imagination at the ready and see what fun you can have by using the boring to create the invigorating.