25 Unique Ways to Gather Inspiration for Writing

Lists are my favorite. I like reading lists, writing lists, crossing things off my list. They are pretty much my favorite thing. You too?

If you do like lists, you’re in luck. Today I wrote a list just for you with 25 ways to gather inspiration for your writing practice.

  1. Create a Pinterest board with inspirational images and quotes.

  2. Read books about writing.

  3. Call a friend and brainstorm about your stories together.

  4. Color in a coloring book. (I’ve found that keeping my hands busy lets my mind wander and suddenly I’m overflowing with ideas.)

  5. Go on a walk and stay alert to your senses. Turn off the reel of to-dos and stresses and let your mind wander.

  6. Read a fiction or nonfiction book by an author you admire in whatever genre you’re wanting to write in. (Optional: take notes about what you like/don’t like and why.)

  7. Engage your senses - make a cup of hot tea, light a candle, buy some flowers, get a fuzzy blanket or a fuzzy animal, taste something delicious. Notice, taste, observe, feel.

  8. Paint or draw (or do anything that isn’t writing but is still creative).

  9. Watch a favorite movie or TV show, but take notes as you watch - what do you love about this movie? Why? How might you include similar characters/plot devices/etc… in your story?

  10. Do absolutely nothing. No, don’t touch your phone. No, don’t talk to your dog. No, don’t get up and empty the dishwasher. Actually, really, truly, do nothing. It’s so hard. But so good for you.

  11. People watch. Be creepy and eavesdrop and stare, but do it discreetly so no one calls the cops.

  12. Go to a museum and look at art. Then look at the people looking at art.

  13. Practice describing things you see while sitting in traffic (describe it your head, of course, or out loud if you are alone, but don’t write them down because that’s dangerous).

  14. Join a group of artists or writers.

  15. Go to a bookstore. Because, you know, books.

  16. Have a good old fashioned brainstorm - no bad ideas, everything gets written down, no judgement of ideas until you’re all done.

  17. Listen to new music.

  18. Deprive yourself of one of your sense -- get ear plugs, or close your eyes -- and then pay attention to all your other senses.

  19. Ask for encouragement from a friend or loved one (sometimes we need to be reminded that our work is beautiful).

  20. Go somewhere you’ve never been.

  21. Plan a writing adventure for yourself. Start at a coffee shop, then plan a hike or walk in nature or a drive to somewhere new. Wander through a new town, sip wine at a cafe and take notes. Write, observe, and drink it all in at each place you visit.

  22. Participate in a challenge like Nanowrimo, Art Stew 52, etc… Sometimes creating with some parameters can kickstart other ideas.

  23. Read something new. If you usually read fiction, read poetry; if you like to read poems, try memoirs; if you mainly read non-fiction, pick up a novel.

  24. Read a history book (or mythology, fairy tales, fables).

  25. Have a conversation with a stranger.

The best way to use this list is on purpose. No, that’s not a typo. You could do everything on this list and not feel inspired one bit. So be intentional about how you use this list. Choose what works for you, stay aware of what inspires you and what doesn’t, bring your notebook with you everywhere, stay alert, stay present, stay focused on filling up and gathering words and ideas.

Just sitting in a coffee shop won’t inspire you unless you watch, observe, and engage. Maybe you sketch what you see or jot down notes. Maybe you close your eyes and try to describe the smell of apple cinnamon muffins. Maybe you chat with someone idly, noting their thick gray eyebrows and stern look and how it juxtaposes with their mild voice and manner. Or you could sit there checking your phone every five minutes and wondering when inspiration will hit.

As Sherlock would say, many people see but do not observe. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely, young padawan.


Action Items:

  • Try one of these this week!
  • Share about it on Instagram! Use the hashtag #sharingwithinkandgrace.