Home » Blogs » Make a Mess: Everyday Creativity » Building Stories From Tiny Slivers All Around Us

Building Stories From Tiny Slivers All Around Us

Years ago, Andrea Pippins had a coffee date with a friend, where Pippins shared her dream of publishing a book. Her friend was so encouraging and helpful that when Pippins got home, she immediately started writing a book proposal.

Even though she’s since reworked the initial concept, it turned into a book called We Inspire Me: Cultivate Your Creative Crew to Work, Play, and Make.

Pippins believes that inspiration is everywhere—including coffee dates with friends.

Specifically, she believes that we can take a “seemingly insignificant incident…and build a world around that idea for a novel, blog post, or an essay.” These seemingly insignificant incidents may include everything from a child gazing at the moon to a homeless man dancing in the park to a crumpled receipt in a ditch, she said.

In short, she encourages readers to “build stories from tiny slivers of the activity around you.”

Pippins, who’s also an artist and illustrator, lists these other tiny slivers in her book: a garden, a sound, texture in the pavement and other people’s work or ideas, “especially if those people are members of our inner circle—the people who know us and who we connect with regularly.”

Inspiration can be found in the way someone holds their pen or laughs or walks or shops or orders their food. It can be found in the scents that greet you as you enter a loved one’s home. It can even be found in a pile of dirty laundry, each piece of clothing a treasure trove of memories, emotions, expectations.

You could keep a small notebook with you at most times, which is solely dedicated to recording tiny tidbits or moments. You don’t have to do this with any goal in mind. Simply start observing. Then start writing.

Focus on your five senses. Put down your phone more often as you’re waiting in line, or waiting for a friend to arrive for dinner. Put down your phone as you’re sitting on the subway or the bus. And open up your notebook instead.

Start eavesdropping on conversations. Start looking at your surroundings. Start asking yourself, what scents are swirling through the air? Start asking yourself, what am I really seeing? What are the people around me doing? What natural objects can I notice?

Look down. Look up.

Pay attention to what you normally gloss over or pass right by.

If you’re up for it, challenge yourself to jot down five slivers a day (or more!). Make a quick list, or draw your discoveries. You can extend this further by using your observations as prompts for your writing, whether you’re penning poetry or composing a memoir or writing a blog post. In fact, if you’re focused on practicing, you can experiment with a different type of writing every week or month.

Think of yourself as an inspiration hunter or explorer. Think of your searches for inspiration as mini expeditions. Think of them as play.

Inspiration is literally everywhere—and the key in being regularly inspired is to practice. Practice regularly, jot down minute moments, invent interesting stories and you’ll sharpen your observational skills—and no doubt discover some beautiful things in the seemingly insignificant.

What do you notice? What ordinary magic have you observed? What stories and worlds do you want to build? 

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash.

Building Stories From Tiny Slivers All Around Us

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Building Stories From Tiny Slivers All Around Us. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.