Many of the people I know who write novels say that they listen to specific music during the writing process. Specific to that novel. When the novel is finished and they move on to a new story, the music changes.
I also listen to music. But I also collect small objects associated with the story. I keep them on my desk and when I am looking for inspiration, I pick them up and turn them in my hand, feeling the weight and texture. Right now I am thinking about a story that concerns a locksmith. So I have a couple of padlocks on the desk, and a couple of bits of metal that I can use as lockpicks.
One of the questions that I am often asked is about how I do the research for my novels. I used to feel embarrassed about that question - because I was not aware of doing any research. But having thought about it, I have realised that I am constantly researching. My research might be described as persistent curiosity, or nosiness.
I go through my life asking questions of the people I meet, listening to what they have to say, and all the accumulated information is somehow regurgitated as a novel.
This morning offers a good example. We are having a couple of windows replaced and the man who is doing the work turns out to be a locksmith. Facts are comparatively easy to find on the Internet. I have mentioned in an earlier post that YouTube has a comprehensive range of instruction videos on lock picking. But attitudes are illusive things. Listening to a real locksmith talking about how he felt about the job - this is precious indeed.