Sitting in front of a blank screen or sheet of paper is a classic issue for writers. It’s basically a writing trope about writing itself. Every writer faces the blank screen, no matter how skilled they are. Waiting on inspiration to strike is often a lost cause. Instead, it’s best to go out and find our inspiration.
As a writer, I’ve found inspiration in a lot of places. Oftentimes, I’m inspired by the stories I tell myself when I’m bored or interesting dreams that I’ve had. These stories usually turn out to be a bit fantastical or bent toward science fiction, so I had to learn other ways to get inspired for my more “serious” stories. Luckily, inspiration can be easy to find if you just do a little hunting.
Five Tips for Finding Writing Inspiration
#1-Take a look at your life and family history.
Real life can be a great source of story material, especially if you take a little artistic license to make the story better. Think about the stories you heard growing up, or about the first things you tell people about. You could even take from your darkest fears and secrets, or tell about the worst thing you’ve ever done. You don’t have to tell people where the idea came from. Create it as a fiction and label it as so. While you can always write a memoir or creative nonfiction story, real life can be a great inspiration for fiction as well.
- Change details from real life to make the story better and protect those involved.
- Turn your deepest fear into a horror story.
- Write a true story down as it happened, then change details to make it fresh.
#2-Write down interesting dreams.
Dreams can be the best inspirations. They often contain raw emotions, unexpected events, and ah-ha moments. They rise from our unconscious, revealing deep thoughts that may be beyond our conscious awareness. Write down any details you remember so that you can build a story around them. You may forget parts of the dream soon after waking, but write down what you can remember. Then see if you can work it into a story.
- Jot down the compelling parts of your dreams.
- Use the premise or goal of your dream to create a story.
- Take interesting characters, events, or scenarios from your dream and play around with them.
#3-Draw from art and music.
Art and music can inspire you in multiple ways. You can base a poem, story, or novel on a song or a piece of art, or you can listen to music that matches the mood of your story to help you channel that emotion onto the page.
- Choose a painting and write a story about what’s happening.
- Write a story that retells the events of a ballad with your own twist.
- Choose three unrelated pieces of art and create a narrative connecting them together.
- Write a poem inspired by a painting.
#4-Observe people and imagine what they might be doing.
People watching is a great way to get inspired. You can do it anywhere you’re not alone, so it’s easy to do. Find a perch, then see who comes by. Tell yourself a story about who they are, where they’ve been, and what they’re doing. Imagine who they might be as a character, then turn it into a story.
- Create a character based on someone you see. Think about what the person is wearing, how they carry themself, and what they’re doing when you see them.
- Imagine what two people are saying to each other. Write down your own dialogue for their conversation.
- Do character sketches of various people at different places, then combine them into the same story.
#5-Put your own twist on a writing prompt.
Using a writing prompt alone provides inspiration, but that usually leaves me feeling like it’s not really my work. It’s hard to start with someone else’s idea and not feel like the result is somehow a little fake. If you find yourself feeling the same way, why not try putting your own twist on the prompt? Change the direction, the details, or combine multiple prompts. It’s not totally original, no, but nothing really is anymore.
- Add or subtract something to/from the prompt to change the genre.
- Smash two prompts together to create a new prompt.
- Change an important detail.
- Reverse the prompt.
Just Write Something
Don’t wait to be inspired. Sit down, face the paper, and just write something. The sad fact is that there is no muse waiting around to bop us on the head with good ideas. Those ideas come to us when we go out and hunt them down, so get hunting.
Where do you find your writing inspiration?