34 Unexpected Places to Find Writing Inspiration (And Become a Better Writer)

Too many writers struggle.

You probably do, too.

Have you ever sat for hours, staring at your screen, hating yourself for procrastinating, but struggling to think of a single sentence to write?

The blinking cursor mocking you from a blank screen might be the world’s worst place to search for writing inspiration. Your brain needs stimulation and fuel to think creatively.

A weightlifter would be a fool to expect major muscle mass without a proper diet and exercise regimen –– you can’t expect to produce compelling copy without making a conscious effort to feed your mind and spirit.

Before you set off on a walkabout for writing inspiration, know it isn’t likely to strike like a bolt of lightening. You’ll get optimum results if you incorporate positive activities that are mentally, physically and spiritually rewarding into your daily life.

1. Walk as much as possible. 

Sometimes you’ll tune out the world and let your thoughts roam free. Other times you’ll absorb the details you would never notice while imprisoned behind the wheel of your car. Either way, some of your best ideas and flashes of inspiration will come from walking and observing the world around you.

2. Visit the public library 

Visit the public library and lose yourself among the stacked spines looking for a single spark to start the crackle in your creative fire. Don’t worry if what you find isn’t relevant to your current project. You’re not doing research, you’re feeding your mind.

3. Eat or have a drink alone and people watch. 

Resist the urge to bury yourself in a book or your phone every time you find yourself sitting outside. Tune into your surroundings and take note of what’s around you instead.

4. Watch a foreign film or television show without subtitles or dubbing. 

Make up your own story and dialogue. You’re not trying to win an Emmy, you’re trying to tap into the natural flow of human emotion –– the same ingredients that can spark your ideas, or even better, help you become a great writer.

5. Visit or call elderly family members or friends. 

Ask them questions about life. What was life like when they were young? What were the main similarities and biggest differences? What is the most shocking change they’ve seen happen in the modern world? How about their biggest heartbreak? A single conversation could give you enough food for the soul to keep you writing with a full mind for a while.

6. Ask the children in your life to tell you a story or explain how they think something works. 

Play make-believe with them and push them to build an entire world with their words and imagination. The natural innocence of a child can help you see your tired world with a fresh, rested perspective.

7. Find a place with moving water and sit for a while 

Simply watching it flow, or build a fire and watch the flames. Watching hypnotic, natural movement is a terrific way to allow you subconscious the freedom it needs to knit tangled thoughts into inspired ideas.

8. Do some yard work. 

The combination of being outdoors and doing productive work with your hands will be wonderful food for your mind, allowing you to fade into your work’s relaxing rhythm, while your mind and senses absorb the world around you.

9. Go someplace new. 

It doesn’t have to be uncharted frontier or even far away to give you a big benefit. Rather than using a GPS, navigate using a map and road signs instead. This will help you engage as much of your brain power as possible. Even better, use public transportation if possible so you can fully immerse yourself in the journey.

10. Read every day. 

Great literature, trashy magazines, books about science or politics, graphic novels…don’t worry too much about learning technique and making clever observations, just enjoy losing yourself in the words. You’ll never be the writer you want to be if you don’t take the time to be a regular reader first.

11. Doodle, paint, sculpt or draw. 

It doesn’t matter if you think you have talent or not, using your hands to create art (or a slightly artsy mess) is an excellent exercise for pulling the most from your creative mind.

12. Play hard. 

Find a sport you love and practice often. It’s amazing how much exercise will liberate you from your brain’s restraints and leave you energized for the creative work of being a writer.

13. Have a laugh. 

Sure, humor makes you feel great, but it also helps you to relax while eliminating many of the defenses your brains places against new ideas. Sometimes laughter is exactly what you need to see old things in a brand new way.

14. Visit Internet forums where people share their stories and experiences. 

You can even ask your own questions as prompts to hear about the experiences of others. Their likes and dislikes, hopes, dreams and fears are all fodder for your creative fuel.

15. Re-read some of your old writing. 

You might be embarrassed by some of it or perhaps even astonished at how good you can potentially be. Are there any themes that you’d like to explore further? Topics you’d like to revisit now that you have more experience? Familiarize yourself with your past work so you can focus on what you do best, ditch what you don’t, and drift forever closer to the amazing writer you were born to be.

16. Don’t forget to talk to people. 

Many writers live a lot of their life in isolation, moving through life in a bubble and missing out on the positive connections that will make their lives that much richer. Keep up with friends, hold conversations with strangers whenever you can, and never forget that it’s insight into human nature that can make your writing amazing.

17. Do repetitive, mindless tasks such as washing baseboards or dusting blinds.

Activity keeps your conscious mind busy so it won’t interfere with the important work that’s brewing below the surface. Dull work can be amazing for your creativity if you allow your hands to move with automaticity while your mind meanders.

18. Listen to the music you loved as a teen or young adult. 

Lose yourself in memories of how you felt in some previous once upon a time, and recall your fears and aspirations from long ago. What has changed since then? What’s stayed the same? You can never return to the person you were, but music is a sturdy bridge to memory.

19. Learn more about the writers you admire. 

What was their route to success? What can you learn from their journey? Smart entrepreneurs model themselves on people who’ve already gone where they want to go and have done some of the things that they want to do. Yet entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who can stand on the shoulders of giants. Don’t just know what your favorite writers did, know HOW they did it so you can do it too.

20. Visit a local historical attraction, such as a Victorian mansion or a frontier home.

Take your time and imagine how it felt to live during this time. How would you cope if you were transported back? How would the former residents feel if they found themselves in our time? Being a prolific writer means being able to write believably across time and genre. You owe it to yourself to step out of the speed of broadband and slow down to yesteryear every once and a while.

21. Poke around thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores. 

Look for objects that call to you or bring up memories from the past. Similar to visiting a historical location, old artifacts can give you a tangible, hands-on glimpse into a long ago that’s worth revisiting.

22. Go on a photo safari. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a good photographer or if you’re using the world’s worst disposable camera. Give your mind a workout by looking for new ways to view a scene and capture what you’re feeling in an image. As a writer, you create pictures with words. Occasionally putting yourself behind an actual lens is a great way to sharpen your perspective.

23. Visit a local art gallery or museum. 

Think about the techniques the artists used to convey emotions and concepts in their art. Even with different mediums, human emotion is the same. What techniques would you use to accomplish the same creative elements in your writing?

24. Play with Lego or blocks. 

What are you building? Who lives or works there? What are their stories? Playing with blocks may seem like it’s for the preschool set, but the hands-on work will stimulate your mental agility as well.

25. Conquer a phobia. 

Work through your fear and gain new insight on your emotions and strengths. Fear is a primal emotion. Understanding who you are and what makes you tick, especially when it comes to your most common fears, will make you a much more powerful writer.

26. Allow yourself to talk to somebody with whom you vehemently disagree with on an important issue. 

And don’t stop there. Do your best to fully understand and appreciate their point of view. Rather than using your energy to come up with rebuttals, discover how and why they feel the way they do so you can appreciate their perspective. This doesn’t mean you must let them change your mind, but if you can understand the variance of human viewpoints, that understanding can inspire your creativity and help make you a better writer.

27. Go to the zoo or an aquarium and take your time watching the animals. 

What do they seem to be feeling? How do they interact with each other? Sure, a shot of nature will stimulate your creativity, but pay attention and you’ll get something even better. People are animals and much of human behavior is rather animalistic, especially when it comes to our more base insticts. Observing the animal kingdom is a lot like observing mankind in general.

28. Play word games.

Play word games, like Scrabble, Words with Friends, Pictionary or even the Sunday crossword puzzle. Or try writing limericks or having punny conversations with friends. You’re a writer, so you know that playing with language is an excellent way to keep your vocabulary sharp and exercise your verbal abilities.

29. Make a collage by cutting words and pictures from magazines and newspapers.

Don’t worry if you feel like a 14 year old girl while doing this – that’s a good sign you’re about to shed your adult inhibitions and throw yourself into doing something creative and fun without over-thinking it.

30. Take a class and learn something new. 

You’ll not only gain knowledge, you will also meet new people and get the chance to observe how others around you learn and communicate.

31. Clean out your attic or garage. 

What memories do your possessions hold? Do you remember why you bought them or how they came into your life? Did they fulfil your expectations or leave you short? The ephemera of your life can serve as remarkable fuel for your creativity.

32. Read through the oldest emails in your inbox. 

What ideas did you have that were never developed? What stories did you never follow up on? Questions that were never answered? Many writers are servants to their email. Wouldn’t it be nice to make your inbox work for you for a change?

33. Ask friends about the oddest story that happened in their family or their hometown.

Get as much of the back-story and detail as you can. These micro-stories will likely show up in your writing in some place or another. Whether it’s fiction or sales copy, it’s the tidbits of life that turn boring paragraphs into compelling copy.

34. When all else fails – look in the fridge and think about how good food would taste.

Remember, your best words can be exchanged for money that can be used to buy fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, and even your favorite desserts!

How do you feed your mind to insure that you have plenty of writing inspiration?