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When life sucks, note it in your “good material” file

And even when life is good, be prepared to note it.

I have a friend, along with many others, who was laid off from her job in the midst of the financial market meltdown. While she and her coworkers had been told layoffs were coming, she couldn’t help but be devastated.

At the same time, she told me later that she also couldn’t help but be fascinated by observations of her boss and the HR representative as they broke the news: the smirky, nervous smile on her boss’s face, the canned corporate speak.

Later, cleaning out her desk, she would note the uncomfortable reactions of co-workers left behind, loud crying from behind a conference room door, and the angry response of one worker who threw items from his desk on the floor before being escorted from the building.

Ever the observer, she noted, “Damn. this is good material.”

It’s our term for all the great stuff we gather from all the twisted things that happen in life. It’s not that your run-of-the-mill days don’t often offer good fodder for your current or future novel or short story. But it’s the really ridiculous, awful, and heartrending moments that seem to present the best “material.”

Consider this as your consolation when “things” happen. You can mine an excellent detail to flesh out a character or develop a scene for your latest project.

If you haven’t already, immediately create a file and name it “Good Material.” Every time something happens that could provide a detail or idea for a story, throw emails, memories, and notes in your file.

Suddenly, life has new meaning.

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