I pick a topic at random. It's snowing, do I write about snow? About winter? Christmas? Are there any Christmas / holiday writing contests / blogs? Is my writing group doing anything for Christmas on The Nuthouse Scribblers? Once ideas start flowing, I am an unstoppable force.
How do I add realism to my fiction?
I pattern characters loosely after real people. Never piss off a writer... You may become the villain in their next book. I adapt characteristics I like (or not) and apply them to my creations for dimension and consistency.
I incorporate my experience. I work in an office, my character works in an office. I have kids, my character has kids. This goes along with the advice of writing what you know. If your character is an astrophysicist, you better know your astrophysics!!! Writing takes research. It does. So keep your facts straight.
Then I take all my good advice to myself and throw it out the window! I imagine my story unfolding in my mind like a movie and I capture it in words. I have complete disregard for my careful plotting. But when I review my work, I find I have included elements from my life, people and events, and what I've written has become personal and revealing to me.
Writing fiction is my therapy too. Everyone needs an outlet. I don't talk about my feelings. I have seen several therapists, but I internalize the major stuff until it manifests into a physical ailment. I do. I am guilty as charged. I don't take the time I need for myself. I have family and work responsibilities. So I write. I write until it all makes sense.
Know of any Christmas writing contests?