How to Find Writing Inspiration

This week, as promised, I’m re-visiting inspiration. Where does my inspiration for writing come from? How do you get your creative juices flowing? How do you find writing inspiration when it’s not finding you?


This weekend, my flatmates and I threw a salsa party.

(No, 21 year old me did not think my idea of ‘fun’ in my late twenties would be a salsa party, but here we are).

So, not only am I still recovering from the combination of alcohol, late-night exercise and three hours sleep, I’m also reeling from the endless inspiration you get from a night like that. When I say “a night like that”, it’s not easy to explain the kind of vibe you find in a salsa party. But I will say this: dancing exacerbates everything. I’m not sure I could put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because everyone who decides to start dancing has to be at least a little outgoing. Maybe it’s because we all have something to help break the ice, or maybe it’s just the closeness and sense of intimacy you get with your friends.

Whatever it is, it is definitely inspiring, and it made me want to write. I was so full of writing inspiration I could have sat down at my laptop at 3am, but I forced myself to get some sleep (again, not something I would have done at the age of 21).

When Inspiration Strikes

I often see people post on Twitter that their goal is to write 1,000 words in a day; or sometimes 2,000, or 3,000. In a day.

The day after our salsa party, I wrote 2,000 words in 34 minutes. (I know this because I sent a message to a friend right before I started writing. When I finished, I saw my word count and thought: woah, this must be some kind of record).

Of course, this doesn’t happen every time I sit down to write; actually, it happened because I was hit by a sudden surge of inspiration.

When inspiration strikes, for me, I finally understand the phrase “itching to do something”. It’s like an itch in your brain. It bothers me until I am able to write it down. Usually I’ll start writing immediately, in my notebook or on my phone if I’m not close to my laptop.

Sometimes, if I’m really not able to stop and write, I have to start writing in my head and hope that I’ll remember everything by the time I make it to my keyboard. Okay, that even sounds loopy to me, but this is what I mean when I say it feels like scratching an itch. Sometimes you really can’t stop it.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

​It’s easy to say “You should get out of your comfort zone”, but what does that really mean? How do you come up with new story ideas? How do you know if they’re “outside of your comfort zone”? How do you get your creative juices flowing when you’ve got writer’s block and all you want to do is sit and scroll on social media?

One way to step out of your comfort zone and get back into the flow of writing with some fresh ideas is to tackle some writing prompts! Writing prompts aren’t just for new story ideas. You can use them to write just a paragraph or two, to prompt an outline, to write some ad-hoc dialogue or do some free writing. The key is remembering that you don’t need to write something incredible. It doesn’t need to be published. It doesn’t even need to be good. Just write something a little different to what you usually write, and you’ll often find that it’s a great way to get back into the flow of writing. This is a key piece of advice I always give to new writers: your first draft doesn’t need to be good. It just needs to exist. Great writing comes later, and writing a shoddy first draft should be a normal part of your writing process.

Reading Other People’s Works

This can work in two ways. Either, you pick up a fiction book to get yourself out of your head and escape with one of your favourite authors. This is a great way to take a break from your own writing session. Or, you can pick up one of many non-fiction books by some famous authors that will help to point you in the right direction. Over on Outloud Magazine, there’s a great list of books all authors should read, including legendary works by Stephen King and Anne Lamott. They won’t solve writer’s block for you, but they’re a great starting point!

How to Come Up With New Ideas

Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. For me, it often comes from my real life, and sometimes real people too (hence the ultra-fast short story I wrote the day after a lot of socialising). I find the best way to come up with new ideas when you are struggling with a lack of inspiration is to think: “What if…?” Take one of our writing prompts and keep asking yourself “what if…”. Take an old idea saved in your notes app and ask yourself “what if…”. (If you’re not already using your notes app to save spur of the moment ideas, trust me when I tell you it’s a good idea! Next time you have a random idea or thought for a story, write it down immediately. This should be a part of your writing process, too!)

Some of the best ideas come from the real world. Your own life experiences can turn out to be sources of the best inspiration. 

But, what do you do when you need inspiration and you just can’t find it?

Maybe it’s been weeks since you wrote, and you just want to flex the muscle. Maybe you know what you want to write, but you don’t know how to start. Maybe you’re just a little stuck on a certain part of your story and need a little inspiration to keep going.

How do you make inspiration come to you?

For me, I get bored. (Well… I try.)

Getting Bored Inspires Creativity

My top tip for anyone staring at a blank page, looking for inspiration, is to let yourself be bored. Turn off the music, the podcast, the TV, tiktok, whatever it is you’re using to keep your mind occupied these days. Turn it off. Whilst you’re washing the dishes or cleaning your apartment, or walking from one place to another, look around and allow your mind to wander.

Allow yourself to wonder where that person across the street is rushing to. Allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to work in that coffee shop, or how your life might follow a different path if you took a different street to your normal route.

I really can’t stress this enough; the less you fill your mind with things, the more it will find things to fill it.

Don’t go looking too hard for inspiration; allow yourself to relax, and it will come to you.

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