Why not set yourself the Ten Miles from Home challenge?

See what you can find to inspire you in your writing within a ten-mile (rural), five-mile (town) or one-mile (city) radius from home.

Read Dee’s Ten Miles from Home Diary

Maybe you are travelling somewhere further afield. To work, to shop or to visit friends or relatives. Treat each journey as a new adventure. See your surroundings in a new light. Pay attention to the little details. Look above eye level at the buildings you pass. See the variety of brick and stone work, windows and chimneys, plaques and signs. Look down at the ground beneath your feet. The changing surfaces of road and pavement, of earth and grass; litter and debris and shoes passing by.

I came across this art nouveau beauty in Milsom Street, Bath on the pavement outside Jaegers. I have used it in my novel-in-progress Bath Buns and Short Togas (34,000 words & struggling). My hero is an architectural photographer interested in recording unusual features of Bath’s historic buildings. He loves looking at man-hole covers and drools over this discovery beneath his feet.

What about this one – taken in The Corridor in Bath?

I don’t know what I’ll do with this picture of the lead rain-water pipe. It’s just lovely to look at and to think about the period when it was made and the workmanship which went into it. A triumph of form and function. Some day, it’ll flash across my mind again and inform some writing I’m doing.

Perhaps you’re off on holiday. Don’t look on it as just a break from the daily grind or domestic routine.

Yes, carry a notebook and a camera (vital for a writer to record what s/he sees for reference later) with you at all times but also take your inquisitive and questioning self too wherever you go.

Rust on SS Great Britain
Rust on the hull of SS Great Britain

Get off the beaten track. Get away from the main tourist areas. Visit that church or villa not in the guide book. How about a school or factory? Talk to locals. Where do they shop and eat? Use your senses: write down what you hear, what you smell. Note down colours and textures.
Rust on the hull of SS Great Britain

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction the starting point is the same: real experiences filtered through your own imagination and sensibilities.