20 Things That Can Help You Find Inspiration for Writing

Today’s guest post is by writer Lesley Vos, sharing some great ideas to help evoke inspiration to write.

If you are connected to the process of writing in some way, there is no need to explain to you how important it is to have inspiration. When you’re inspired, you consider your project easy to write, and this process captures you so much that you often forget about food and sleep. But if inspiration seems elusive, you feel utterly discouraged, and you can’t do your job at all.

If writing is just a hobby, you have time to wait for the inspiration needed to finish your post, article, or book chapter. But what can you do when your income is dependent upon your inspiration? The answer is obvious: you should find it!

Need some help? Here are 20 effective ways to bring your escaped inspiration back.

If you have ten minutes . . .

Listen to music. Music’s positive influence has been proven: one song can help you concentrate and start working, whereas another one will let you relax and think of something pleasant. Just find the music that influences you, and turn it on when you need some inspiration for writing.

Want a beautiful PDF with all these 20 inspirational tips? Click here to get your downloadable PDF.

Write in longhand. Thanks to modern technology, we rarely ever use a pen and a sheet of paper when we write. Just close your Word doc, take a pen, and try to remember the way you wrote back in the day. Maybe these new feelings will awake your inspiration—who knows?

Meditation. Are you finding no ideas at all? Just try to relax and think of nothing. This is the moment when inspiration may come, and new ideas can sometimes appear unexpectedly.

Listen to others. Don’t hesitate asking for advice or help. Sometimes even a common phrase from a person who is not a writer can spark a number of fresh ideas in your head.

Word associations. Just play a game: open a dictionary, pick a word, and write down all thoughts and associations that come to mind. Or think of two numbers—one for a page, the other for a line—then open any random book and read what is written there. Such “hints” work very well sometimes to jumpstart your imagination.

Think of something different. Constant thinking about the same problem may lead you to nothing but a dead end. Try to focus on something completely unrelated to your writing at hand. For example, imagine how you will celebrate the New Year in 2020, or what it might be like to climb Mt. Everest.

Take a look at something green or blue. Researches claim that these two colors can influence our creativity. It happens because we associate a blue color with sky or ocean (openness in general), and a green color gives us signals of growth.

Freewriting. Take ten minutes to write everything that comes to your mind without thinking or pausing. When finished, reread what you’ve written and try to find some useful ideas from the effort.

A change of scenery. Do you work in an office? Go into another room. Do you sit all the time? Stand up and think, pace, jot ideas down. Fed up with staring at palm trees and beaches on your computer’s display? Replace them with snow and polar bears. It’s amazing how a change of scenery can give a boost to our imagination!

Laugh. Positive moods can promote creativity because they boost activity in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cortex (the areas of our brain associated with complex cognition, decision-making, and emotions).

If you have thirty minutes . . .

Make something by hand. If you work intellectually, try to change your activity a bit and make something by hand. Try knitting, cooking, gardening. Anything you like and anything that can capture your attention for a while. Doing so helps you refresh all processes of thinking.

Spend some time outdoors. Take a walk in a park or go camping. It doesn’t matter what method you choose here–the main thing is that fresh air, rest, and new impressions will feed your inspiration.

Engage in sports. During exercise, we not only strengthen our body but also liberate our brain. In addition to the physical benefits, we also develop better willpower, patience, and a sense of purpose.

Try something new. If you always do what you usually do, your creativity will come to a dead end. But when you strive for something new, it can feed your inspiration. Even such simple things as a new way to work or a new cooking experiment can help you come up with some new ideas for your story. 

Sleep. If you can’t find any fresh ideas for writing, just go to bed. Yes, this often works, and sometimes after a good night’s sleep, ideas flow easier.

If you have a large block of time . . .

Do not wait for perfection. More than likely, it will never come. No one will die if your book does not win the Nobel Prize for literature, or your article is not published in the most popular ezine. Your perfectionism can work against you, and can stop you from completing anything. Just try to do the best you can, knowing practice makes better, but almost never makes perfect.

Go abroad. One study shows that students who study abroad are more active with creative thinking. Psychologists insist that intercultural experience helps stimulate cognitive processes that form the basis for our innovative thinking.

Create a treasure chest. Gather all your ideas, feelings, and impressions. Inspiration is a very capricious thing, and that’s why your “chest” with ideas may become really helpful when your inspiration suddenly disappears. Scratch down ideas for scenes, characters, and stories on bits of paper or in a notebook and set it aside for later, when you need a fresh idea to work on. 

Find what excites your creativity. Victor Hugo could not work without the smell of coffee. Isaac Newton (so the story goes) sat under an apple tree to ponder in quiet. Maybe you can identify what habits you have that awaken your creativity. Resort to them when inspiration is needed.

Do not wait for a muse. If you have already tried all the methods described above but your inspiration has not come back yet, start writing anyway. At some point your muse will approach from your back and peek over your shoulder, wondering what you are doing without her. Then, she will give you one hint. And then . . .  she will take your hand softly and lead you to the place of inspiration.

Be sure to download this beautiful PDF with all these 20 inspirational tips! Pin it next to your computer! Click here to get your downloadable PDF.

Lesley Vos headshotLesley J. Vos is a writer and essay proofreader. She writes for Bid4papers blog and is getting ready to publish her first ebook. You can contact and connect with Lesley here on Google Plus.  

Feature Photo Credit: Mara ~earth light~ via Compfight cc

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  1. I know some writers say its bad to watch TV shows, but I find watching the storyline unfold helps distract me enough that I get excited when I return to my own work. This helps a lot when I’m stuck, it gives my muse a chance to work through the problem while I’m enjoying someone else’s characters. Reading does wonders too.

    1. Hello, Traci!

      Well, every writer has his own source of inspiration probably. TV shows will never work for me, as they distract me from work: I can’t write anything after watching them. I do not know why 🙂 But if they work for you, it’s great! And I agree with you as for reading. The works of other writers can inspire us much.

  2. What a comprehensive and imaginative list, Lesley! I have trouble believing you are ever stuck with your writing!
    Sitting down at my computer and just opening my document is a huge way for me to get started on my day’s writing. And if I end with a crazy bunch of ideas which might happen listed at the end of my WIP, the next day is that much easier.
    I love the times when I have a pivotal or emotional scene to write as the words do just flow from my fingertips. Not so easy are the scenes where I’m working out how my fictional characters are going to react to historical fact. That takes some thinking.
    Again, kudos to you for an excellent post!

    1. Thank you, Elaine!

      Believe me, I stuck with my writing quite often)) And that was the reason and my source of inspiration for this guest post. I’ve just decided to gather all things a writer can use to find inspiration, and I am happy that Susanne gave me a chance to see this post live at her wonderful blog!

      Now I have 20 things for inspiration, I use some of them myself, and I hope this list will be helpful for other writers as well.

  3. Some great suggestions, thanks Lesley (and Susanne). I’ve found drawing to be a great way to tap into my creative side before I write. For my blog, I do a pencil drawing then use it to inspire what I write. I’m constantly amazed at what comes out. The same thing goes with my fiction writing. If I can’t get into my right brain enough to write, then I draw my way in to it (smile).

    1. Thank you for your comment, Diane!

      You seem to be a very creative person, if drawing inspires you so much! And you can draw actually! This is great, because I can’t say the same thing about myself. )) It’s really cool to find the source of inspiration that perfectly works for you, and I am glad you’ve found yours!


  4. This is a detailed list… !

    I have started meditating (specifically mindful meditation) and I have found that it really helps calm and clear my mind.

    My favorite way to find writing inspiration though, is to use image prompts. Simply taking a picture and create a short 500 word story based around the image.

    1. I’ve tried this way too, Katherine! And it works actually. )) I remember, that I’ve read about such a method two or three years ago; and its author recommended it as a great way to boost your vocabulary when you are a novice author and you take your first steps in writing.

  5. This was a great list … lots of ideas for lots of different moods and time constraints. I’ve tried most of them at one time or another, but the problem is that I can’t remember them all when I need them.

    This will be by desk every morning.

    1. Hello Mary!

      I am glad you liked my list. I think that all writers use most of those ideas from time to time, and they have their favourite ones, which work well for them. If you can’t remember them all at once, maybe just choose several things that help you find inspiration, and use them 🙂

  6. These are really awesome. I was thrilled to find that I’m already doing some of these things, but more thrilled to find new ones I can try.

    I write in longhand a lot. I tend to outline (I write nonfiction and sometimes freelance as a content writer) in longhand, and revise in longhand. Sometimes I write an entire article or chapter in longhand because I like the way it feels.

    I listen to a lot of music, and have a playlist for when I’m writing. I have a Pavlovian response to it and immediately start writing when I turn it on.

    Yes to making something by hand, as well. I do a lot of different things, including (very bad) woodworking, knitting (not quite as bad) and papercraft (pretty good). I sometimes get up from my desk and go sand a board just to gather my thoughts. It works.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. You are always welcome, Angie!

      It’s cool, that my article helped you find some new things to inspire you 🙂

      P.S. I do knitting too, but it rather relaxes me… Yes to beautiful music (Frank Sinatra or Joe Cocker for example) and nature! I often write sitting in a park with my laptop.

  7. An excellent article! I have done several of these suggestions that the article exrolls to improve writing and I feel that they do in fact work. For instance I always take a walk first thing in the morning and looking at that beautiful blue sky does in fact improve one’s mood! I also tend to walk at sunset because the stunning shades that the sky turns are so inspiring! I recently moved my laptop from my office to the living room and find I am able to compose more work lately due to these fresh surroundings! I love your suggestion about making an inspirational chest full of creative things to inspire writing! I think this is something I definitely will be trying! A well written, thought-provoking article! Thank you!

  8. An amazingly well written post Lesley. Something that always works for me is ‘A change of scenery’. A nice walk in the neighbourhood park. Works like a charm.

  9. Lesley, I’ve done a couple of those suggestions and they do work. At one time I sat down and typed a lot of free association as part of an opening paragraph, including some pretty “blue” swear words (I don’t normally swear) and yes, I went on to write 4000 words that night! I find music, writing in long hand, a walk outdoors, a sleep, talking to a friend, watching a short documentary or funny movie, all to be beneficial. Thanks so much for reminding me of what to do for “writer’s block”!

  10. I’m glad you included spending time outdoors. I especially feel refreshed mentally after some time in my garden, but even a walk around the neighborhood clears my mind and lets new ideas pop in.
    Also, travel doesn’t have to be abroad.(Though that definitely opens doors to new ideas!) But traveling to new places w/in our own borders can be inspiring as well. I love to travel anywhere for new visualization and inspiration.

  11. Hi,
    I am 12 and am aiming to write a novel. I’ve been writing most of my life, but can’t seem to do originals, they’re always based on another book.
    These are great ideas, and I hope they help. I really admire your work and hope to be like you someday. Do you think there is any hope for me at all?
    Ty. Pls reply.

    1. Of course there is hope! More than hope! You have a lifetime ahead of you, and you are starting early to write creatively, so just study blog posts and writing craft books and at some point you may get to attend some conferences (some have a teen track for younger writers). Keep at it and just enjoy the writing journey!

      1. Thank you for your encouragement! These really do work for me! I hope that there will be conferences in my area for me to attend! My friends help me through this all, and try to find ways for me to keep up my writing, but we can never find anything. :/
        This is my favourite writing blog I’ve read so far, and I have read a lot. Thank YOU!

  12. Hi! Thanks a lot!
    Interesting and constructive ideas! Personally, for me helps just to start writing! It may just be a rough draft, unrelated thoughts, but just to start writing! Will pass very few time, and the idea will become a piece with meaning and plot… This is my experience, maybe someone will help!

  13. Those are very helpful tips of how you can find inspiration for writing. I agree that it has been proven that music is capable of positively influencing the listener and also making him/her relax therefore listening to music can go a long way to help you find inspiration for writing.

  14. This is a great list. I have to agree with you about freewriting being important when it comes to inspiration. A lot of great ideas originate from freewriting. This is quite useful for those trying to overcome writer’s block. I’ll definitely have to come back to this in a case of writer’s block. By far my favorite is looking at something green or blue. It’s so fascinating, I had no idea. Overall, this is a very creative and helpful list. Thank you.

  15. Really great list. Most of these things I keep in my personal toolbox but so helpful to see them on paper. Definitely going to print it and put it up in my office. Thanks!

  16. Interesting and constructive ideas! Personally, for me helps just to start writing! It may just be a rough draft, unrelated thoughts, but just to start writing! Will pass very few time, and the idea will become a piece with meaning and plot… This is my experience, maybe someone will help!

  17. Interesting and helpful ideas, perfect for a beginner writer like me. So many times, I stuck on my texts because I never had inspiration to write. Thank you for this nice post.

  18. Thanks a lot, Lesley for a great list. I’m only the beginner in writing and till now music was my the only source of inspiration. But I like your suggestion to play word association and to try freewriting.

  19. Hi,
    I have just read your article and it was useful advice. As I am always reading about ‘how to do it’, I have read the suggestions before, but the point is, it reminds you of what to do when starting a new project or are brain battered in the middle of a project. I’m just starting a new story, my last one one is probably lying in the cellars of Noumn awaiting their comments. Although to be fair they do tell you that you will have to wait a few weeks for their decision.
    My keyboard has deliverered 2000 words of my new epistle to the god of writing, the public, and as the keyboard is opperated by my right hand, I will keep your list in my left hand to glance at while brain, hand, and keyboard strive to wiegh a sheet of white paper down with words. (Publishable of course.)

  20. Having read through the comments above my suggestion would be, never go anywhere without your pen and notebook.When you’re walking down the high street and a thought strikes, stop write it down. People will think you’re nuts, so what. Or get a recorder and talk into it as those genius thoughts cross your mind. Don’t forget to take those tools to bed with you, because the muse isn’t averse to waking you up in the middle of the night with brilliant phrases which, if ignored, and you roll over, and go back to sleep, will belost forever. Mind, your partner might not be pleased if you wake them up.

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