Filling the well. I hate that phrase.
My first employer used it. He encouraged it. And he scolded you if he caught you doing it. His hypocrisy aside, “filling the well” is invaluable.
I’ve never feared not having an idea because I’m always taking things in. I can’t stand network shows anymore. If I watch any TV, it’s something like Modern Marvels or another History Channel bit.
I’ve always liked to learn, so I always have, and, though I would totally dominate at Trivial Pursuit if it weren’t for all the damn questions about women’s tennis, I don’t consider any of the information trivial. It will come to matter in the form of texture, or a plot or a joke or something in one of my stories.
Frank Sinatra’s advice to his children was to “be aware” and there is no better advice for a writer. Be aware of everything around you. First of all, it will lessen the chance of getting hit by a car, but you will also learn so much about the world and how silly it is.
The person in charge of elevator safety in Dallas is Willie Kuntz. How do I know that? I read the certificate in an elevator. Zurn is not an evil intergalactic demon unleashed upon a small New England hamlet. It is a plumbing manufacturer. In case of an emergency we are supposed to break glass. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I now know that if a fire breaks out, adding broken glass to the situation is a good idea. It seemed counterintuitive at first. Seems like the last thing you want in a fire is broken glass everywhere.
How will I use all this knowledge? There is no telling. But, these tidbits and many others will always be there for me to exploit if I should need them.