This post was originally published on February 27, 2014, and was updated January 19, 2022.
This post is a challenge to mine your everyday life for ideas
Telling you “Inspiration is everywhere!” won’t magically make it easy to find ideas (if only), but you might be surprised where you can find your next idea. Here are a few places you can find inspiration:
I have weird dreams. Like the ones that involve wet or soggy footwear? Gross. While those don’t translate into much of anything, I’ve also had the fortune of having dreams interesting enough to turn into book ideas.
Like my first novel Elusive Memories, whose opening scene was inspired by a dream.
Sure, sometimes dreams are pointless or weird or only indicative of anxiety you’re working through in real life. My first-day jitters always end up as a dream about being hopelessly late. But if you keep a dream log, it’s easier to turn those dreams into something more. (And really, there’s nothing stopping me from turning that “I’m so late!” recurring dream into a story. Except maybe my anxiety about being late.)
2. News or events
Any episode of Law & Order is an excellent example of how you can use news or events for your own benefit. Why bother trying to come up with a basic plot or idea when real life can be so interesting? I’ve come up with a story idea [very] loosely based on a true crime show I watched once. The premise was so interesting I wanted a chance to explore it in fiction.
But you can use this for blogging too. Whenever a social media platform makes changes to their algorithm or changes how people can use their platform, you could use it as an opportunity to show off your knowledge about how to make the most of that platform—or maybe why it’s time to leave it behind and try a new social media platform.
I came up with the business name “The Path of Least Revision” while on a walk. And whenever I need to think through an issue or problem, heading outside to move my body does me good. It’s like exercising frees up your brain to make connections and work out whatever’s plaguing you.
And leave your phone at home. Or make sure it stays out of reach. Exercising is a distraction-free time, and that’s vital in learning to find inspiration and ideas. Electronics turn off creativity time for your brain.
Like exercise, showering (or taking a bath) gives your brain distraction-free time to be creative. Sometimes it’s a matter of your brain remembering something you forgot. Sometimes it’s letting your brain have free rein to frolic. I often get my best ideas in the shower.
5. Something someone said once
When someone expressed confusion about why so many short books were priced at $2.99, I wrote a post about it. But you could also use a favorite motivational quote, a message that doesn’t sit right with you, or something you overheard to expand on and share your thoughts. If something makes you think, write about it.
“Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…?” might be one of the best phrases ever for inspiration. Because if the answer is “Yes!” you have an opportunity to explore the idea in writing.
6. A situation you witnessed or a problem that keeps popping up
My book blogging life is a perfect example of this, and it’s ultimately what led me to write and publish The Blogger’s Mindset (now out of print). I saw so many people talking about burnout and pressure, and I wanted a chance to write about it.
When I saw people talking about how easy it was to keep saying yes, I wrote a post on how not to over-commit. If you see a problem you can help solve, write about it. You might write exactly what someone needs to hear.
Where do you find inspiration?