I am fortunate; I find my inspiration everywhere.
My everyday interactions, thoughts and sensations inform my writing, so much so that I will never have the time to follow up on all of my story ideas. For the excess, I jot down my idea (as best I can) in my writing journal with the hope that I will one day come back to it. My journal is my insurance. One day, if I ever reach Peak Idea, I can rely on this stockpile.
So, where do I find my ideas? Well, I compiled my five top sources of inspiration below.
It seems counter-intuitive to find new ideas in a work that’s already been created and published. Think of it this way: sometimes a title of a book can lead you to expect another plot or story from the you one actually find inside. What were you expecting? Was it more interesting than what you found? Then write that book. Maybe other people will find it the more interesting story too.
Poems may present you with a different kind of inspiration: the creative spark and the imagery to which that flows. Poetry may get you to think about words in a different way. A poetic turn of phrase can open up brand new vistas on the ordinary or humdrum.
If you haven’t read any poetry since high school, this is the time to start again. The world has gone on since Keats’ Grecian urns (although we still appreciate them).
Listening to a great song can tap right into your emotions, bypassing all of the usually ocular channels. I listen to all kinds of music and I would recommend that you do too (or at least try them out). Different bands and genres can evoke different emotions. Have some music playing in the background and see how it affects your writing.
Song titles are also a good starting point to get your creative juices flowing.
Your subconscious is always working, even when you’re not.
What are the reoccurring themes of your dreams? Go beyond falling or flying and think about that odd little dream you had the other day about pit mining and red mountain ranges. Create a story using that background: a fantasy set in a desolate red land, for instance.
If you can’t remember your dreams, try jotting them down right after you wake up. Keep a journal by your bed for this purpose.
In Real Life
Snatches of conversation, heard out of context on the train in the morning, can find their way into your story by the evening. A face you see in the elevator may fit the previously blurry features of your hero’s nemesis.
For sheer variety, nothing beats real life. Use what you see. Use what you experience. If it was a bad experience, write it out. If it was just a weird observation, so much the better.
Inspiration is all around you. Know where to find it. And, above all, use it!