Donna Goodrich, author of A Step in the Write Direction, says "Ideas are everywhere.!" She gleans newspapers and magazines to find ideas for devotions, fillers and articles. Later she gives them different slants and sells them to other publishers. Once at lunch during a writer's conference, Donna wrote notes as fast as she could. People probably thought she was capturing ideas for future stories when she was actually eves-dropping on nearby conversations and recording dialogue.
Other places Donna gets ideas are from things children say, everyday events, from reading the Bible, and stories in her past. I especially like the way Donna finds spiritual application in ordinary things. If you have a copy of her book, A Step in the Write Direction, find examples of how she turned ideas into fillers and devotions starting on page 163. Page 166 has more than a hundred topics for idea files.
I would like to add that reading, whether novels or non-fiction, give me ideas for stories or articles. Another way to collect ideas is by carrying a pen and small note pad. The pen and pad come in handy when I need to write descriptions or outlines that come to mind. If you find yourself on the go and you don't have time for the pen and pad, use your cell phone to call yourself and leave an idea on your voice mail. You can also record ideas with a hand held recorder.
Like Donna says, "ideas are everywhere." Keep your eyes and ears open and don't let any slip past without recording them one way or another.