Pay attention to the sounds around you–speech and non. Think of how to that bird call –or the rainfall, or the traffic, or the crowd at the game–really sounds, and write it down. But also listen to what people are saying. Pick up on strong phrases such as “plucking my last nerve” or anecdotes containing disturbing images, such as a man on a bus with a dead rabbit in a paper bag. Jot these things into your writing journal for later inspiration.