I get this question often from my readers and even from fellow writers struggling with their own books.
Think of inspiration as a stand mixer: you throw a bunch of different ingredients in the bowl, mix it up and eventually you have a tasty masterpiece.
So where do you find the ingredients to stick in the bowl? Here are some ideas I find helpful in my own writing journey.
- Imagination. Some ideas will pop into your head on their own, so they basically come out of nowhere. If you need a little help with imagination, try taking your thoughts and then asking the question, “What if…” and see where the answer takes you.
- Your Own Life. While your fictional characters shouldn’t necessarily be a carbon copy of you, it is perfectly fine to take an interesting trait, hobby, or event based on you to get the ball rolling.
- Interesting People You Know or Meet. Like using your own life, you can use tidbits from the lives of others to help create interesting characters or plots. Of course, be sure to change details and names. You may want to combine this strategy with using the “What if” method. For instance, if you know someone that would make a great character because they had, for instance, done something illegal and got caught, you might ask “What if in my book, this thing wasn’t illegal?” or “What if in my book they had not gotten caught? What would have happened next?” Keep asking questions like this until you come up with an original character and plot.
- News. Try looking at both mainstream and obscure news for new ideas.
- Conversations. Have any interesting conversations lately? Or have you overheard anyone else having an interesting conversation? For the latter, what do you think lead to such a conversation? What kind of lives could people that have such a conversation lead?
- Internet Sites. Sometimes going down the internet rabbit hole is more than just a time suck. It may lead to an interesting idea.
- Dreams. Your dreams or an aspect of a dream can be turned into a story. It’s easy to forget your dreams, so if you use this method, I suggest keeping a dream journal.
- Writing Prompts. If all else fails to bring you inspiration, you may want to go back to school-type basics and try using a writing prompt. Writing prompts are a fun way to jump start your imagination. You can search online using the phrase “writing prompts” or even try a “writing prompt generator.”