Now, I don’t mean turn yourself into a prying biddy. You don’t need NSA-type efforts. But people will talk within your hearing, and it’s not a bad thing to listen to what they’re saying.
(Interesting tidbit: the word “eavesdrop” originates from a term describing the area under the eaves of a house where the water from the roof dropped. It developed into a verb and noun to describe the activity and the person who stood in the area to listen in on the inhabitants.)
This can be done physically – on line in a store, sitting in a restaurant, cruising through a mall, sitting in the company cafeteria, or riding in a bus. People will talk to their friends or peers about what is on their minds. Heck, they’ll even let you listen in on their phone conversations (sometimes whether you want to or not).
It can also be done online through social networking sites. See what’s trending and check out the comments people make.
There’s a whole bunch of juicy material out there just ripe for turning into something useful — a blog post, a marketing pitch, a short story, or a character in a novel.
You’ll be surprised at how much fodder for writing you can get when you just do a little eavesdropping.