If you’re in transit (or even sitting still), just look out the window for 15 minutes. Keep a notepad nearby to jot down details, ideas, and questions sparked by this session of observation. The goal is to inspire words to come to mind, and those could take the form of sensory details, new or connected ideas, or questions based on the moments witnessed that you’d like to investigate further.
Have realistic expectations about your note-taking. Assume there is no good time to stop everything and write, so it’s important to seize an opportunity during or soon after to record your thoughts. Your notes might look like this:
Actual story: my driver for a 30 km stretch of road was an ice cream connoisseur who warned me of the dangers of white-tailed spiders in New Zealand (author’s note: you may not notice the bite, but they can result in loss of limbs).
Notes taken: Bombay to Maramarua. Loves ice cream. Crazy spiders.