Where To Find Writing Inspiration
Sitting down to write every day can be daunting. Yet according to all the great writers, that is what they did to become great. Some days the words flow easily, pouring out of me, and my fingers can barely keep up as they fly across the keyboard. Other days I feel stuck and feel as if I’m dragging words out of the mud, slowly, one by one. Then there’s the small problem of what to write. When I was in middle school, my best friend and I used to write a poem on the sides of our papers if we were lacking in creativity.
Inspiration won’t come
While that didn’t inspire great writing or even mediocre writing, it became our little code for, “Help, I’m stuck!” We would then talk it out, and see if something bloomed. These days, I’m more protective of my writing. I have the same innate fear that most artists have: if I share too much, someone will steal my idea. Where, then, can I possibly come up with new material to write about?
Here on Coffee House Writers, we have a chat group and each week Tracie Hicks posts ideas. She lists things like what the current month is known for, different celebratory days, and popular or trending topics. Did you know August 6th is Wiggle Your Toes Day? Me either. Each week I read these lists and think, “None of this resonates with me.” They’re pretty extensive lists, so you would think something would stand out once in a while. After some reflection, I’ve come to realize that these lists aren’t helpful for me because I don’t keep up with popular and trending topics.
We do not have subscription television service at our house and do not get the newspaper. I have to use my skills in searching the internet to find out what is going on in the world, and sometimes this can be a lot of work. I do not mean to infer that I am not informed on the current political clime, because I am. I will proudly state that I am not up to date on Hollywood drama. My opinion on that is, “Who cares?” People get divorced, married, have children, die, lose their jobs, find their passion every day. Regular people, people I personally know and care about. Why would some distant actor’s love life interest me? But I digress.
Where do I find inspiration? Where can other writers find inspiration if they do not want to write about prevailing topics? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Your family. Maybe you have children, maybe you don’t. But we all have a family. Daily family life and events can provide fodder for how-to articles, moral lessons, and even fiction.
- Random strangers. One of my favorite things to do is sit in a public area and observe the people around me. Not only can I glean ideas for characters, but I also discover great scenarios I can put into my stories.
- My past. This is probably the one I draw on the most. We all have some life experience and it doesn’t take much to turn it into a story or article. I used my experience going through a divorce without an attorney to write a how-to article.¹
- Writing prompts. Don’t discount the goofy writing prompts you can find on Pinterest or websites like Writer’s Digest. Sometimes all it takes to get unstuck is a new idea. Who knows? You might even discover an entire novel lurking in one of those prompts.
- Other artists. This is not a recommendation to steal ideas, but rather a suggestion that you visit museums, art shows, and read. Maybe that painting awakens a story inside you, or a book on how to find wild asparagus gives you an idea for an article.
There are probably hundreds of sources for artistic inspiration, but these are my favorites. Always carry a notebook with you, or have an app on your phone, in order to make notes of ideas, feelings, and details that you spot when you’re out and about. Too many times I have had a great idea but did not write it down immediately and then I promptly forgot it. Writers’ minds are notoriously cluttered, so a notebook keeps you from losing those thoughts.
It doesn’t really matter where you find inspiration or how many ideas you have if you do not actually sit down to write. Even if you can’t think and your brain is numb, you need to write every single day. No exceptions, no excuses. Even if you only write dumb poems about being unable to write, do it.
¹ The information contained in this article may no longer be valid.