Writing inspiration -10 places to find ideas

“I feel a blog post coming on…” The phrase has become a stock joke, particularly from my eldest son with whom I spend a goodly amount of my time. A thought will crop up in discussion and, waxing philosophical we will pursue it down the odd byways of the mind. Conversation, interaction with other minds… that has to be the best source of inspiration you can get, for me.The ideas and analogies thus born form a rich vein of inspiration every day.

In the beginning, though, there were long periods of procrastination, where I would sit in a caffeine fuelled stupor desperately seeking anything to take my mind off the lack of words on the screen. I became a dab hand at all forms of Solitaire and can lose myself in the online bookstores as readily as I can in their musty counterparts in another reality. These days if I didn’t have to work and sleep I think I would be constantly writing in an attempt to get down all the things I want to pin to the page.

But there are days when the whiteness stares back, a mocking mirror of the blank slate of the mind. Where then to seek that spark of inspiration? It happens to us all… and if I do not suffer from writer’s block, I do have days when it is harder to get into gear. All you need is a start… and from there things unfold. This is where I go…

1. The scrawl…
There is the inevitable sheaf of papers, letters and bills on the desk. Many are sent back with an apology for the scribbled notes they bear. I do try to use pencil, but sometimes I forget… Odd ideas that flit momentarily into being must be captured before they disappear, so something to scrawl on is always to hand.

Of course, you put down the odd word or two, knowing you will …of course… remember the sense of the idea that engendered them. Only to find you really haven’t got a clue. All you can remember is that it was the best idea ever.

Even worse, you tidy up and lose the best idea ever altogether…

2. Seeding ideas…
In the same vein as the scrawl, there is a file on my desktop full of documents. Each one holds the foundation of an idea. On the up side, I don’t risk throwing these in the bin when I do the housework. On the down-side, a lot of the really good ideas got just that word or two as triggers… and their substance has dissipated.

3. The doodle…
When I was small…okay, I know. I still am. Start again… When I was very young and wanted to learn to draw, my grandfather would draw random squiggles on a page and from these I would have to make a drawing. I still do it. Sometimes it is simply the same thing… a doodle on paper and see what comes. From there an idea might form.

Sometimes I doodle with words… half a dozen random words plucked from thin air and typed on the screen. Their associations usually set a spark to the tinder.

4. Pick a card, any card…
I keep a Tarot deck on the desk. I know the cards well… I have used this one particular design for many years. Between the images themselves, the meaning of the card of the symbolism depicted, there is always a thread to follow. It might be a hairstyle that sets of a memory, a creature or colour combination. A few minutes thought opens many doors.

The downside is that it is way too easy to get caught up in the pursuit of symbolism and the meditative state is not conducive to actually writing.

5. Books…
This I try and avoid for obvious reasons. It takes discipline to walk over to the bookcase and pick up a book, open it at a random page and start reading. Well, it takes discipline to put it back down again anyway…

The same applies to reading blog posts, articles… even the sempiternal cereal box, though at least that is easier to put down.
It isn’t about plagiarism, but sometimes another writer’s words spark a train of thought that is the start you need.

I always keep a Bible in arms reach too. The old custom of Bibliomancy comes in handy as I allow it to fall open at a random page and see what the verses have to say. It is handy too because at least with the Bible I will not read above a chapter or two… Well, there is so much symbolism in there I get easily sidetracked…

6. Pictures…
I have a lot of photos… all arranged in folders. I would like to say ‘neatly arranged’, but that isn’t the case. I rely on memory to find things… which isn’t always efficient but is always an interesting journey.

Picking both a folder and an image at random will usually throw up somewhere to begin. All the midnight haiku are written this way.

7. Housework…
I do this as little as humanly possible these days… and to be fair, with just the dog and me there isn’t much to do. You can guarantee, though, that as soon as you are elbows deep in polish, suds and bleach, you will get a good idea.

7a. Gardening…
Ditto… though it probably isn’t suds I’ll be up to my elbows in…

8. Outer space…
Walking in the landscape or just picking a road and driving is another perfect place. You are away from the computer, you probably can’t write anything down… your mind is free to roam… and roam it will. Whether you remember any of it when you get back to a keyboard is immaterial. The process has begun.

9. Inner space…
Meditation, contemplation, a wallow in a bathtub… just take any thought, any phrase and let it play…and somewhere there will be that Eureka moment. Personally, I think that’s what Archimedes was doing in the bath in the first place…

10. Google…
Take any word… any at all… and type it into your search bar with ‘quotes’ before it. See what comes up. There is always something to switch on the light!

And if all else fails?
Sit down and write. It really doesn’t matter what… once the flow has begun, something will emerge from the fog.

But that’s just me… where do you go for inspiration?

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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56 Responses to Writing inspiration -10 places to find ideas

  1. Sangbad says:

    I’m mostly once the flow…guy…


  2. Other bloggers? For my poetic inspiration! 🙂


  3. Ritu says:

    I find, when my mind is open to it, that that there is inspiration almost anywhere… or blogger fodder as I like to call it!


  4. ksbeth says:

    i have many of the same sources of inspiration – most are ‘aha’ moments, a photo, a note, a scrawl, a happening, something i see or fall into, reading others’ posts, the world is full and like you, i try to ‘organize’ it in some way that i’ll remember, throw things in a box or pile or into my brain or heart as well. somehow some of it makes it to a post )


  5. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    cool advice 🙂


  6. I often see things that inspire me to write when I am driving or travelling. I have little notebooks everywhere that I scribble my thoughts in. I don’t have a lot of free time so try to write when I get an opportunity like on an airplane. I do a lot of good writing then.


  7. Helen Jones says:

    Reblogged this on Journey To Ambeth and commented:
    A lovely post from Sue about the many places inspiration can be found 🙂 Where do you go to find yours?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Helen Jones says:

    Great post, Sue! I’m with you on the scrawl – my desk is littered with sticky notes and scraps of paper, and I always carry a notebook and pen with me, just in case. I know we live in a digital world, but for me, the immediacy of paper and pen cannot be beat 🙂


  9. I love art galleries, museums, going for days out those are the kind of things that trigger my imagination. But nearer to home it might just be something as simple as a cat visiting my garden and becoming my muse!


  10. dronstadblog says:

    The point 7a is always useful and practical. It makes your negative energy leave, so the positive can seed a creativeness. It also works right after you get out of the gym. Me personally, I drain my inspiration from music, movies… art in general. Art inspires the art. Love this post.


  11. My inspiration comes from pretty much everything around me. A story. A movie. Song lyrics. Nursery rhymes. Fables and parables. A random prompt. An odd-looking stone. A beautiful flower. A unique tree. Birds and animals and technology. Musing about the future or reminiscing about the past. Shapes in the clouds and stars in the sky. A phrase or a concept or a Chinese proverb.That really ugly Citroen I saw parked near an electric charging port in Amsterdam. Architecture and art and sometimes a taste or a smell or a sound.

    But mostly random prompts. 😛


  12. fransiweinstein says:

    Interesting post Sue. Thought I was the only one who scribbles on envelopes lol. I also have files of thoughts and phrases and the beginnings of ideas. Looking at photos does it for me too, as does reading articles and other blogs or even watching TV and seeing movies or wandering through museums. But over the years I’ve learned that shutting doen my computer and not even thinking about it usually works best. It’s when I’m doing something else and I stop taxing my brain that ideas come — almost always when I’m in the shower, for example.


  13. Some excellent tips here. Doodling is great! If I get stuck for ideas, I often find myself going back and editing what I’ve already written – usually a no-no, but sometimes it works in my favour. When I got stuck with the first draft of Gateway to Magic, I went back and scribbled out a word, and the scribble turned into a doodle that looked like a woolly sock that had come alive and raised its head. This gave birth to creatures called sockworms, who became part of the story and moved it on!


  14. I often find inspiration when I’m walking the dog or changing into my tennis gear. I think people are slowly becoming used to the strange American who dictates notes into her iPHone in the changing room or park


  15. Mary Smith says:

    I have notebooks of random scribblings. Sometimes I look at something and wonder what on earth I was thinking about when I wrote it. I tried to have a major clear out once but I couldn’t do it. A note saying, ‘no one ever bought dusters – vests, pants’ Has just in the last couple of days become a poem – though I’m sure I was not jotting down an idea for a poem.


  16. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here’s a great post from Sue Vincent on where to find inspiration for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Like the hints, especially the pitfalls you may encounter such as No. 5, first paragraph.


  18. thewisegreek says:

    I have gotten some of my inspiration from The Story of Your Life as well as youtubeXD. It may not be the best place for getting facts, but they do come up with some creative stuff that makes me think a little.


  19. Widdershins says:

    I have to admit, I’ve had a couple of inspirational bathroom visits over the years 😀 … but mostly when my mind is still and I let my senses connect with the worlds around me. 🙂


  20. Prajakta says:

    The challenge isn’t always the inspiration… but to follow it through to the end, irrespective of whether you hit publish or not. I usually find myself in hold of an awesome idea but lack a keyboard or pen to jot it down.. Then somehow, it just dissolves into a few phrases.


  21. Really helpful blog, Sue. Thanks. 🙂 — Suzanne


  22. Television, especially great lines and quotes. Memories brought on by whatever we are watching, his and mine.

    I don’t scrawl, but i write down a couple of line in my site to either turn into posts later … or not. Garry prefers the whiteboard on the refrigerator.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I don’t have TV. I have ‘a’ TV, but it is not connected to anything other than the DVD player. I rarely miss it and am still trying to find time to watch my Christmas films 🙂


  23. adeleulnais says:

    When my daughter, Tara, was little we used to do the same. A doodle or covering the page with different coloured crayons and I would tell her to find the picture within the page. We loved this and I still do it today. xx


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