As I become more experienced in carving, I find myself looking at objects in a different way. I look and say to myself, "How would I carve that"? These objects can be a picture of something, an object that I hold in my hand, or an object on television. It can be a plastic toy, a ceramic piece, and even a "talking head" on the television. The possibilities are unlimited.
Last night while watching television, I caught myself studying a female news reporter. While she was indeed very attractive, I found that my main interest were the details of her facial structure. My thoughts went to how to replicate her features with a carving tool. Very quickly I found myself trying to build a carving sequence, as well as how to make the various carving cuts that would seem to be necessary to achieve her "look".
There are lots of objects that present themselves to us as ideas for carvings. Take a minute to study what interests you, and visualize how you might carve it. Work out in your mind a carving sequence, prior to starting the carve.
I think this activity can be a very useful learning tool - that is, if I could only remember the carving sequence and techniques, long enough until actual carving.