31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing

    inspiration for your writing

    You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London

    No matter how much you love writing, there will always be days when you need inspiration from one muse or another.

    In fact, I would argue that inspiration is not just a desirable thing, it’s an integral part of the writing process.

    Every writer needs to find inspiration in order to produce inspired writing. And sometimes, it can come from the unlikeliest sources.

    I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ways of finding inspiration — some of them obvious, some of them less so. But it’s always good to have reminders, and if you haven’t used a few of these sources of inspiration in awhile (or ever), give them a go.

    1. Blogs.
    This is one of my favorites, of course. Aside from this blog, there are dozens of great blogs on writing and every topic under the sun. I like to read about what works for others — it inspires me to action!

    2. Books.
    Maybe my favorite overall. I read writers I love (read about my current loves) and then I steal from them, analyze their writing, get inspired by their greatness. Fiction is my favorite, but I’ll devour anything. If you normally read just a couple of your favorite authors, try branching out into something different. You just might find new inspiration.

    3. Overheard dialog.
    If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park or a mall or my workplace, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.

    4. Magazines.
    Good magazines aren’t always filled with great writing, but you can usually find one good piece of either fiction or non-fiction. Good for its writing style, its voice, its rhythm and ability to pull you along to the end. These pieces inspire me. And bad magazines, while perhaps not the best models for writing, can still be inspirations for ideas for good blog posts. These magazines, as they don’t draw readers with great writing, find interesting story angles to attract an audience.

    5. Movies.
    Sometimes, while watching a movie, a character will say something so interesting that I’ll say, “That would make a great blog post!” or “I have to write that in my writing journal!” Sometimes screenwriters can write beautiful dialog. Other times I get inspired by the incredible camera work, the way that a face is framed by the camera, the beauty of the landscape captured on film.

    6. Forums.
    When people write on forums, they rarely do so for style or beauty (there are exceptions, of course, but they’re rare). Forumers are writing to convey information and ideas. Still, those ideas can be beautiful and inspiring in and of themselves. They can inspire more ideas in you. I’m not saying you have to read a wide array of forums every day, but if you’re looking for information, trawling some good forums isn’t a bad idea.

    7. Art.
    For the writer aspiring to greater heights, there is no better inspiration that great art, in my experience. While it doesn’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in person, I like to find inspiring works of art and put it on my computer desktop for contemplation (Michelangelo’s Pieta is there right now). It doesn’t have to be classical works, though — I’ve found inspiration in Japanese anime, in stuff I’ve found on deviantart.com, in local artists in my area.

    8. Music.
    Along the same lines, it can be inspiring to download and play great music, from Mozart to Beethoven to the Beatles to Radiohead. Play it in the background as you write, and allow it to lift you up and move you.

    9. Friends.
    Conversations with my friends, in real life, on the phone or via IM, have inspired some of my best posts. They stir up my ideas, contribute ideas of their own, and they fuse into something even more brilliant than either of us could have created.

    10. Writing groups.
    Whether online or in your community, writing groups are great ways to get energy and motivation for your writing. My best short stories were done in a writing group in my local college (a great place to look for such groups, btw), as we read out our work to the group, critiqued them and made suggestions. The work of the other writers inspired me to do better.

    11. The Book of Inspiration.
    A free book (below) full of writing inspirations. Can’t beat that!


    I don’t know why it’s so, but great quotes help inspire me. I like to go to various quote sites to find ideas to spark my writing, turns of phrase that show what can be done with the language, motivation for self-improvement. Try these for a start: Writing Quotes and Quotes for Writers.

    13. Nature.
    Stuck for ideas? Go for a walk or a jog. Get away from sidewalks and into grass and trees and fields and hills. Appreciate the beauty around you, and let the inspiration flow through you. Sunsets and sunrises, of course, are two of my favorite uplifting scenes of nature, and anything involving water is also awesome (oceans, rivers, lakes, rain, rivulets, even puddles).

    14. History.
    It can be unexpected, but great people in history can inspire you to greatness. My favorites include Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, and other greats.

    15. Travel.
    Whether it be halfway around the world, or a day trip to the next town or national park, getting out of your usual area and discovering new places and people and customs can be one of the best inspirations for writing. Use these new places to open up new ways of seeing.

    16. Children.
    I have six kids, and they are my favorite people in the world (my wife and siblings and parents being right up there too). I love to spend quiet time with them, taking walks or reading. I love to have fun with them, playing board games or having pillow fights. And during these times I spend with them, I’m often reflective, about life, about humanity, about love. I suggest that children, with their fresh outlook on the world, can change the way you view things.

    17. Exercise.
    I get my best ideas most often while running. There’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, combined with being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.

    18. Religion.
    Many of you aren’t religious (and many are) but it doesn’t matter much — the great religions in the world have ideas in them that are beautiful and inspiring. I’ve studied some of the writings of not only Christianity and Judaism but Islam, Bahai’i, Buddhism, Taoism, and many cultures with multiple nature gods. I can’t say I’m an expert at any of these religions, but I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion have paid off for me in inspiration.

    19. Newspapers.
    I used to be a newspaper reporter and editor, and I’ve become jaded to newspapers. The news seems like an endless cycle of the same thing, happening over and over again. However, if you know how to look, you can find human-interest stories that are inspiring. Stories about people who have triumphed over adversity. (Edit: I had “diversity” instead of “adversity” here and have now corrected … thanks for the catch, Bill!)

    20. Dreams.
    I’m not very good at this, but at times in my life I’ve tried keeping a dream journal by my bedside and writing down what I can remember when I wake up. Not because I think it’ll tell me something about myself or my future or past, but because dreams are so interesting in their complete disregard for the rules of reality, for their otherworldness and plot twists.

    21. Writing journal.
    I highly recommend this for any writer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or something you write in every day. Just a plain notebook will do, although a nice journal can be motivating. Write down thoughts and inspirations and quotes and snippets of good writing you find and pieces of dialog and plot ideas and new characters. Then go back to this journal when you need ideas or inspiration.

    22. Del.icio.us.
    This popular bookmarking site is a treasure trove of great articles and blog posts and resources. I don’t do this much, but sometimes I’ll browse through these links to find examples of great writing by others. While you shouldn’t steal these ideas, you can often adapt them to your particular blog topic, or use the ideas to spark new ones of your own.

    23. Poetry.
    How can poetry inspire prose? Through its beauty and flow and style and use of rhythm and play on words. Through its use of language and music.

    24. Shakespeare.
    He’s not the only playwright, of course, but he’s undoubtedly the greatest, and the greatest master of the English language as well. While his writing can be difficult for those not used to the language of his time, a study of even one of his plays pays off immensely. The Bard wrote beautifully, used the largest vocabulary of any English writer, invented his own words, made up interesting phrases that are used to this day, had more puns and twists of words than any writer I know. There is no writer more deserving of our study and more inspirational to other writers.

    25. Google.
    Stuck for ideas? The old standby, Google, has often helped me out. I’ll just search for the topic I’m writing about and find tons of great resources.

    26. Freewriting.
    One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.

    27. Brainstorms.
    Similar to freewriting, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.

    28. Flickr.
    If fine paintings and sculpture inspire you to greater heights, photography of some of the most talented people in the world can show what everyday humans can do if they try. I like Flickr.com, a real wealthy of amazing photography. Just browse through to find some wonderful inspiration.

    29. Breaking your routines.
    Get out of your rut to see things from a new perspective. If you usually take one route to work, try a couple others. If you usually get up, get ready for work, and leave, try exercising in the morning or watching the sunrise. If you usually watch TV at the end of the day, try reading or writing instead. Shake things up.

    30. Success stories.
    Another of my favorites. When I was training for my first marathon, for example, I read all kinds of success stories of people who had run their first marathon. It inspired me to keep going. There are success stories for writing, or anything else you’d like to do, that will inspire your brains out. 🙂

    31. People watching.
    This is an interesting activity for any writer. Go to a busy public place and just sit and watch people. They’ll amuse you, inspire you, fascinate you. There’s nothing more inspiring than humanity.

    For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent van Gogh

    If you liked this article, please share it by clicking on the share bar below. I’d appreciate it…

    Photo courtesy of Seedling-Chaos

    About the author

      Leo Babauta

      Leo Babauta is the blogger behind the superblog, Zen Habits, which is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of life.

    • G Money says:

      This has shed some light on the matter for me definitely and I intend to use this in the future. Well done a very simple and concise post. Looking forward to learning more from reading your blog.

    • Thanks for the tips, I start writing right now 🙂

    • porno says:

      I really love your post, it gives me a lot of inspiration about words and writing style 🙂

    • Hansi says:

      Awesome article 🙂 thanks for the tips!

    • nXqd says:

      I really love your post, it gives me a lot of inspiration about words and writing style 🙂

    • Edwin Araba says:

      Hi Leo, Can I have your permission to have this article in my personal blog website? Thanks.

    • Chris adkins says:

      Omg thank you this has been so helpful. I’m 14 years old and I’ve been working on finding inspiration for a story and this was so amazingly helpful I told a few of my friends who write about it thanks again.

    • Edwin Araba says:

      Hi Leo, I find your article interesting. I would like to ask your permission if I could have this article in my personal blog site. Please let me know. Thanks.

    • I appreciate this list very much! Thanks for sharing.

    • As Stephen Kaggwa said: “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.”
      I try to think about this quote whenever I suffer from a writers block

    • Maggie Dodson says:

      What a fantastic list; it inspired me to immediately make a list.
      Thank you Leo.

    • Hanna Sles says:

      thank you for sharing this! My daily translation services sometimes make me chaotic, and when one in such a status, it’s really very difficult to put the brains in the right place. Next time I would probably choose People watching and Breaking your routines from your list.

    • Very inspiring post!

    • Nana Hassan says:

      This is very inspirational in and of itself. I checked out The Pocket Muse and absoluely loved it.
      This is great advice. Thankyousies!

    • John says:

      love it all. it made me think of two kids in a maze PERFECT!

    • Josh says:

      for some reason your last point the one about watching people it made me think about a cow. it was an incredibly odd thought but it was also very inspirational. i remember when i looked at the cow i saw how powerful a creature it was and i looked into its eyes and saw total peace within them. I’m still unsure what this will lead to in my story but i spent maybe a week trying to find a topic and I’m amazed that a cow came into my mind but none the less i thank you for sharing your ideas.

    • louis says:

      hey,this is one of the best posts that I’ve ever seen; you may include some more ideas in the same theme. I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post.

    • How do I finish a book. I always start writing a book and then I stop for a long while, and then I go back to it. Then I’ll start writing another book and do the same thing how do I stick to one book and regularly write?
      Please give me an answer.

      • morgue says:

        Try to write something on it every day. It will keep it fresh in your mind and you’ll progress on it bit by bit.

    • Every writer sometimes can’t just get their creative juices going…and this info is very valuable, and can help every writer to overcome that writers block.

      Thanks – much appreciated!

    • Sarah says:

      haha, you know what? I think Im in love .lol.
      Advice is AMAZE.

    • ugwu lilian says:

      ur advice is really wonderfu

    • ugwu lilian says:

      ur advice is really wonderfu but i still need some direction on insipration how to start

      • beckley says:

        Lilian i will like to know where u are located and also tell me the kind of story u will like to write.
        thanks waiting to read from you soon.

        • lilian says:

          i want to write an inspirational book. i stays in lagos satellite town. i have this urge of writing and i have started but my problem is am being distracted i dnt know i need ur assistance

    • Gee says:

      This is a great article, it’s really helpful, though I find that I already do most of these on a daily basis while attempting to write! I observe those around me and evesdrop on their conversations, later using the familiar and real dialogue in my stories. I often write about things that I have actually seen occur, or about people that I know well enough to be able to adequately gauge their personalities. I listen to music almost non-stop, and most of my works stem from Free-writing. I find inspiration from images on sites like deviantART all the time, and find flickr an also enjoyable site. This article is informative and helpful. Thank you!~

    • Elva says:

      Thank you so much for the great info. I look forward to future posts.

    • Mariana says:

      I love the dream pad idea, though for different reasons. Thanks from the youngest writer.

    • Aria says:

      this really helped me out. thanks alot.

    • Thaddeus says:

      Im not sure if some of your suggestions will inspire my writing or my procrastinating.

    • Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Every artist was first an amateur”.
      Well, I am still an amateur, but this list is very helpful to me.

    • Great post! I am having one of those “I need inspiration!” days and this was really helpful.

    • This is a great help for if you loose it…lol

    • Yepi de! That means “have hope, there is help”. I just found it…thanks

    • For me number 13 works! When I close my eyes and feel the sunshine on my face, my thoughts fly away

    • steve says:

      beautiful. will try that

    • Zoe Stewart says:

      I am in the middle of writing something myself and i still have no idea where i have gotten any of my inspiration!! well i guess i will still need to search for that!!

    • I enjoyed your site so much that I wrote about it on my website!

    • fazlin says:

      thaks…!! your writing so informative

    • This site is my inspiration, thanks for sharing!

    • e.lee says:

      that is so true , the Jack London quote

    • Alainna says:

      wow i have terrible writers block and my friends always want to read the stories I’ve come up with for fun. This would really help me to get out of having no inspiration.

    • Thank you for your share,some of these is very useful for me.

    • Dude says:

      #32 Alcohol

    • Jack says:

      Nice list. I like number 31, even just for fun. If you are looking for a number 32 on your list check out WordStorm. It is a visual brainstorming tool, it makes maps of associated words. It is a nice way to get some inspiration or some completely new ideas. I’ve used this tool in some recent scientific articles I wrote, it helps a lot when you get stuck.

      Keep up the good work.

    • mk akan says:

      reading about other bloggers and people who have succeeded against adversity is a big go..it works for me

    • Great list – Inspiration & motivation go hand-in-hand & are both essential components for the success of any entrepreneur

    • Like the first one, although they are all relevant and good. I strongly believe you will always find inspiration when you read what’s someone other than yourselves mind. I like the blog, and will stay tuned for more interesting posts!

    • Thank you, need to find my inspiration of writing.

    • That was really a great source of ideas in fact I have been using some of them in my writing.

    • Boca Juniors says:

      Vamos Argentina! Vamos Boca! <– Referring to the picture.

    • Edith says:

      Thank’s for your greats ideas!
      I started a blog but I have to work more often to keep it “alive” and interesting. I’m also writing a fiction based on my 4 years in Amazonas, Brasil.
      I will think about that when I”ll lost my inspiration.

      (sorry for my english.. I’m from Montreal, and I’m a french speaker 🙂 )


      great ideas, very practicle and useful. Everyone should know this.

    • James Bent says:

      Another I’d like to had and highly, highly recommend is: Photographs. I use the photos from the Sartlorialist as inspiration – great to use them for basing characters upon.

      In most good book shops there is a “Photography” book section, usually near the Design or Art section – lots and lots of books with people, objects, scenes.. etc.

      I keep an offbeat writing blog, where I post 1000+ word fiction posts, mainly based on photographs: http://jamesbent.com/blog

    • I will definately try your ideas.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks for this list. Definitely got a lot of different ideas that I never thought of like Delicious, Flickr and overheard dialogues. Will try these out. Thanks a lot!

    • I’ll digg this info. Thanks a lot.

    • Really useful post, thanks

    • Sue says:

      Very interesting, very motivating blog – will save on favorites to go back to again and again!!!

    • Thanks. This really helped…I’ve been stuck for a while now. These are GREAT tips!

    • Have you got some more good ideas? Because until now I like this article very much. Thanks!

    • Good triggers, thanks for posting! Keep up the good work and I will follow your blog.

    • Thank you very much for the good tips, especially tip one. I believe you will always find inspiration when you read what’s on another people’s mind.

    • To break my routines definately helped me. You really should try.

    • I like your ideas very much, although freewriting seems difficult to me.

    • Good list and I totally agree with you about number 8 ” Music” .
      To me, music is such an inspiration.

    • Thanks for the post. I’m in one of those ruts right now and really needed this.

      • beckley says:

        if you are interested then get to me so that we can start immediately
        this is my email you can contact me as soon as possible
        [email protected]

    • Luke VanderPol says:

      I’m a comp student and aspiring writer, and I will be trying a few of these to try and slay my sixth month old writer’s block monster. Great list!

    • Kylie says:

      I’m really into writing chapter books for 9-12 year old girls. I’ve shown some to my family they are in love with them. My dream goal is to become an Author and get a book published. Wish Me Luck ^^

    • devz30 says:

      Nice ideas ^^

      I love the idea of Freewriting, although brainstorming doesn’t help me much. I’ll try breaking routines and people watching; they seem fun! I never realized how I never focus on other people passing by. I guess people and their conversation can serve as an inspiration.

      I’ve tried keeping a a dream diary, but I’ve never recorded it more than once. >.<

      Reading books or whatever piece of writing from your favorite authors is the best way, although it kinda gets discouraging when you feel their work is just so giant compared to yours.

      Quotes are good!!CAn I share one?

      “Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.”

      I love that quote and it just gets so inspiring every time I read it.

      Great post! Definitely bookmarked. ^_^

    • Loved your ideas. I’d add two–driving in the car, especially on the freeway, and listening to motivational speakers.

    • Forte says:

      100’th comment!!!

      Also, I found this very helpful.

    • It’s pretty time consuming to find inspiration on other blogs, I totally dislike it and it’s better to find your own inspiration sources..

    • Maggie says:

      Great ideas. What a rich article (full of ideas!).

      Thank you very much for the information =)

      I appreciate it!

      • beckleydon says:

        i am an African by birth and will like to make the African culture to be known to the world through literary works such as writing them down in novels and in any form of literature, to sum up i am willing to give out information that can help you, if you are a writer to help you write any thing concerning African culture i am a university student and i know that i will make writers great because as i make them great i also make my self greater indirectly, this is my email you can contact me using it so that we can start as soon as possible, ([email protected]).
        thanks waiting to read from you soon ,
        stay bless.

    • Great post; very useful to me. Thanx

    • Sarah says:

      Love the first idea. Blogs are always a great place to find interesting topics. Sometimes searching through Google News is also a way to find stories.

    • Jane says:

      Great list!
      Even reading it was inspiring.

      Here are three suggestions in which I find inspiration:

      1. To fall in love. This one can’t be controled. But I find that when I’m in love this is when I’m most inspired. Your senses are more awakened and let’s face it. Almost every story deal with love at some point or in some way. My suggestion is this: seek love if you don’t have it. Find inspiration in your loved one. And finally: think back upon your old loves, heartbreacks, ect.

      2. Family. I thought of this when I read the ‘Children’ section on the list. In every family there is hundreds of stories. Stories of how your parents fell in love, how someone died, ect. As for me I find inspiration in my grandparents whom lived during world war 2. All those things they have lived to see. All the drama, historical events they’ve experienced. I never grow tired of hearing about it. So sit down with your family and ask them about their life.

      3. People. Of course there is great personalities such as Lincoln and Picasso whom can inspire you. But there is also those people whom you are around with every day that can make you feel inspired. Here’s a quote which elaborates on this. Its by Mark Twain:
      “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the great make you feel that you too can become great”
      So if you know someone who believes in you, are optimistic, perhaps creative as well, then stick around this someone. He/she might give you some great ideas.

      I know the spelling might be horrible :s be gentle English isn’t my native language.

    • Great list indeed, bookmarked it!

    • Great list, some I would not have thought of.


    • Music is my nr1 inspiration! Thank god for music! Yay!

    • Rachel says:

      Thanks for posting this list! Very helpful, much appreciated.

    • Wakas Mir says:

      What a wonderful set of ideas.. thx for this 🙂

    • admin says:


    • çocuk bakımı says:

      çocuk bakımı

    • Gawd — a cure for writer’s block. The world is saved!

    • Kristy says:

      Great website. I’m certainly going to try a few of your suggestions. Some I knew about-and have used, but others were not. And since I’m kind of stuck in the middle of a story right now, I need all the help I can get! Thanks. :o)

      Now I’m going to be like “Bill.” In idea number 28 you might want to remove the ‘y’ from wealthy???

    • W/B says:

      I just started writing. Your ideas were very inspiring and will help me a lot.


    • ThomasD says:

      Leo; I love this post, and wanted to comment specifically about number 2. I’ve always loved reading, but have only recently started blogging. I’m finding that I get most of my good examples, 90% of my good quotes, and more than half of my ideas from books I read. (Especially history)

      Churchill, Plato, and all the classics are excellently thought-provoking

      Enjoying your blog daily,


    • Rick says:

      Hi Leo

      I’m always sending reminders or notes via text to my inbox regarding story ideas, inspirations, etc. I’ve published two books myself and am gathering ideas for my next novel. Someone above mentioned favorite authors. A writing style can be a tremendous inspiration. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a great book by an author with an original style and had it generate more ideas than I can jot down in one sitting. My first book was inspired by a novel I had read whose author had a somewhat unconventional way of writing a story. Her writing was poetic and compelling and I applied what I learned from her. It was a personal success for me. The best advice I can give any potential (or even established author) is to read. Read everything and anything that catches your fancy. Your writing will only improve.


    • TI says:

      Johnny Cash’s lyrics are wonderful and help me trigger (inspire) many stories.

    • Thanks for the great list. (You probably missed to place a link about your favourite writers, btw).
      I would add one more thing here… Nothing is so beneficial for inspiration and good writing as daily writing. Just train your brain to write every morning.

    • Wow! This is wonderful! I will surely bookmark this one. Thanks a lot!

    • Geld Lenen says:

      I always find it time consuming when I want to find inspiration on other blogs, social media sites etc. Just because I get lost, and forget what I was looking for in the beginning!

      I write when I have inspiration, I don’t write when I don’t have the inspiration!

    • I’ve always gathered inspiration for writing by just doing it:

      “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
      Frank Tibolt

    • J.D. says:

      > inspired writing
      Perfect phrase!

      I use questions for inspiration — e.g. ‘what did I learn that I didn’t expect?’ … ‘what’s the most useful nugget I can share?’ … etc.

    • Darwin says:

      Leo, An idea for each day of a long month. If we make it a point to use one a day to come up with a topic for writing, by the end of the month I believe it will be a habit and the excuse of having nothing to write about will be obliterated. Thanks.

    • My 32 way is go to this site – http://www.forhardtimes.com
      and just zap through the posts randomly.

      I always find something new and inspiring over there.


    • Add reading this post is inspiring! I’m going to bookmark this too.

      Generally I rely on free writing, blogs, books, movies, music, exercise, meditation, other people’s stories and stuff going on in my life.

      Now, you’ve added a few more options there for me to try. Thanks.


    • *correction: you OR your readers. Sorry about that!

    • Hey Leo,

      I love this post – particularly a fan of quotes/quote books to get me started writing on a topic. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but just in case you are your readers are interested, I’ve really loved the book ‘Zen Soup’ by Laurence Boldt.

      Thanks for all of the great writing you produce on this blog!

      Jenny B.

    • Leo, as usual, you totally rock! 🙂


    • jackie says:

      some very awesome tips, i especially like the one with breaking away the routines.

    • Jon Pape says:

      Great list of writing resources. Thanks for sharing.

    • Leo,

      This is a great list. I have my own to add, which may seem strange:

      I sometimes write to turn a negative into a positive. Perhaps I’ve run into a very negative person, or read something that is negative in the news – so I’ll take inspiration from that, and try to turn it around.

      Writing something positive to act as a balance for that one negative thing in the world.

      My thought is that it helps, in the grand scheme of things.

    • Lyn Hopper says:

      Thank you for this! It’s a ubiquitous problem, but we all need different solutions…appreciate the smorgasbord of options…

    • Leo–I am with you on kids and Shakespeare…They both inspire me a lot.
      I’m surprise you didn’t mention the beautiful island of Guam. I was there 15 years ago and I still vividly remember the ocean reclaiming the beach after a low tide.

    • I’ve used all of these at one time or another, but freewriting is one of my favorite methods for coming up with ideas. Photos and art are also high ranking because they have the added benefit of providing a visual foundation, which makes it a lot easier to see a story or article taking shape in my mind. Having said all that, real life experiences can’t be beat. A trip to the market, the hospital or doctor’s office, or even a walk down the street can serve up tons of new ideas 😉

    • Marjee says:

      I’d like to add a hybrid of “children” and “nature” to say pets. After grieving a pet for a year, I recently welcomed two rescued puppies. Watching them wordlessly express their own innocence, curiosity,excitement, and occasional puppy-zen has made my heart find new rhythms. They are cuddly little muses.

    • Allena says:

      holy crap~ 6 kids~!!!! you go!
      I came here to make sure you mentioned travel, which is my #1 fave

    • Another one that I’ve written about recently over at Storytellers Unplugged is memories. Not just the ones that you can recall easily, but those places, or times – things – that stuck with you. Right now I’m writing a story that was born of times spent walking down a railroad track in Illinois with my grandfather, gathering persimmons from a grove hidden back beside the tracks, hickory nuts and walnuts…glass insulators…and the bones of animals that weren’t faster than a train… I didn’t have a story in mind, just images of the tracks…it was enough to start the fingers dancing.

      Macabre Ink

    • Great list! I never thought of using Flickr.com!

    • Jennifer says:

      This was a great post! And I’ve found inspiration from a lot of the things you mention here. In fact, most of my short stories (I’d say at least 75 percent) have been inspired by John Mayer songs. Quotes are another major inspiration for me as well.

      Thanks for the additional ideas! I’m going to try them out this week 🙂

    • Great list.
      Some I would not have thought of.

    • Pixel Kid says:

      Great list! Definately travel is what inspires me to write. There’s something about travelling through a place your not familiar with that gets the creativity going!

    • Try writing a blog asking your readers for ideas. You never what crazy challenge you might be in for. Great article by the way.

    • Reading is clearly one of the greatest sources of inspiration…your list reflects that: blogs, books, magazines, forums, newspapers, etc.

      I was motivated to write a post once after reading road signs while driving around town, and my most recent post came about after reading the copy on a Hardee’s bag.

      Reading truly is key to finding inspiration.

    • Great post, Leo! I think finding inspiration applies to everyone, not just writers. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about before:

      “We all need to start seeing the world from a different perspective. That comes from going out everyday and keeping our eyes open to all the possibilities. It comes from learning new and exciting things that force us to stretch our minds and move outside our comfort zones. Put practically, there are a lot of ways to do that. Turning off the TV would be a good start. Pick up a book, a newspaper, or a magazine that doesn’t have yet another celebrity’s drinking problem on the cover. Go to a museum, a gallery, an exhibit, a film festival, a theatrical production, a classical concert, or a jazz concert. Take a dance class, a cooking class, or even an investment class. Do a crossword puzzle. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Learn a language, learn an instrument, or plan an exotic holiday just for fun. Phew! I’m sure you get the idea.”

      (Extract from Work in Progress)

    • Kris says:

      What a great list-I’m always amazed at what ‘people watching’ brings about.

    • --Deb says:

      This is a FABULOUS list, and includes some ideas I’ve never thought of–which is always helpful (grin).

    • shane says:

      Thanks Leo. Going through a writers block at the moment and this is nice to read. I’ve actually started rereading my old diaries and finding them to be a amazing source of inspiration. I can’t believe how much my world view has changed in a decade.

    • Leo Babauta says:

      Lol … great catch Bill! 🙂 Will correct now.

      Glad I have you guys to help me proofread. 🙂

    • Bill says:

      “Stories about people who have triumphed over diversity.”

      I think you meant “adversity” there. 🙂

    • Debra says:

      Wow, what a great set of ideas. I’ll have to bookmark this post and come back to it the next time my Muse goes on strike. I also loved the opening quote by Jack London, one of my favorite authors.

    • >