• Unexpected Sources for Writing Inspiration

    When you write all the time, it’s easy to feel like every concept in the universe has already been exhausted. I understand your pain. If you think your idea pump could use a good priming, you might want to start thinking outside the box. Here are a few unexpected sources of writing inspiration.

    PostSecret is one of my favorite places to get story ideas. This website “is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard” (PostSecret). The secrets range from trivial to life-changing in significance and are accompanied by pictures that may or may not relate to the confession. When I want inspiration, I look here first. Sometimes you can get plot situations from here, but more often than not, you’ll come away with at least some interesting character quirks.

    You can also find ideas from magazine article titles. This method works better for creative nonfiction, but if you get creative, you can still apply it to your short stories and novels. I wrote a piece not too long ago titled “Five Ways to Make Him Stay” about a troubled marriage. The title came straight from Cosmopolitan. You can also get ideas from news headlines, which tends to be my preference.

    Another excellent source for writing inspiration is the re-imagination of actual events–whether from your life or from someone else’s. This method can also be very therapeutic.Take an encounter and turn it on its head. How could the event have happened differently? What could have been some of the consequences?

    If you’re still having troubles finding idea, consider this model to set up a story:

    A _____ wants _____, but ____ gets in the way.

    This model is the one I use for most of my stories. My most recent short story, “Teacup,” looks something like this:

    A creative writing professor wants to have a romantic relationship with a pretty girl, but the fact that she’s a student gets in the way.

    This format is very basic, but it can be surprisingly helpful. The same is true of the preceding methods. The next time your mental well is running dry, poke around one of these unconventional sources of inspiration.

  • More Methods to Overcome Writer’s Block

    In my last post, I gave you several prompts and lines of dialogue to jump-start the creative process and help you get back to writing. Occasionally, a line or two of dialogue is simply not enough. When you find yourself facing writer’s block again, give these techniques a try to get your work moving again:

    • Read a book
    • Clean your house
    • Watch television
    • Go for a walk
    • Turn on some music and dance
    • Cook or bake something
    • Call a friend or loved one
    • Go for a drive
    • Go shopping
    • Play with your pet
    • Take a long bath or shower
    • Work in the garden
    • Have a cup of tea or coffee
    • Write in your journal
    • Take a nap
    • Play a board or video game
    • Vacuum
    • Clean the toilet
    • Do the dishes
    • Go to the park
    • Plan a vacation
    • Light a candle
    • Do the laundry
    • Go out and take some pictures
    • Watch a movie
    • Listen to an audiobook or a podcast
    • Have a glass of wine
    • Cry
    • Sing like no one can hear you
    • Go shopping
    • Go shopping online
    • Go for a swim
    • Get some sunshine
    • Have a snack
    • Go to the zoo
    • Visit an aquarium
    • Go to a museum
    • Visit an art gallery
    • Go to a concert
    • Play in the rain

    Here are a few suggestions to help you get unstuck whenever you’re feeling creatively blocked. The key for getting past writer’s block is distracting yourself from your work long enough to let your mind wander.

    What do you think of these tips? How do you overcome writer’s block?
  • Squelch Writer’s Block with These Opening Lines


    “I do not hate you.”

    “Hit me again.”

    “I need another.”

    “Stay on this train until the end of the line.”
    “This is all I have.”
    She stared at him, saying nothing.
    He knows it’s wrong, but he can’t help himself.

    “What if he says no?”

    “You really got ripped off.”

    “What kind of woman does something like that?”

    I told her I couldn’t.”

    “I never said a word.”

    “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

    She couldn’t talk to him anymore.

    “Turn the music up, please.”

    I’ve never been in love before.

    “He’s just a friend.”

    “Of course it’s stupid.”

    “Do you think we should do it?”

    All they needed was each other.

    “Why do you ask?”

    I had never imagined the end of the world.

    “Get out of my house.”

    “Do you ever get lonely?”

    “I don’t need your help.”

    She squints in the bright light pouring in through the windows.

    “You never listen to me.”

    “There’s a time and a place.”

    “You promised me.”

    “I’m so, so sorry.”

    “Your hair smells like strawberries.”

    “I don’t like the snow.”

    “Funny weather, isn’t it?”

    “Excuse me.”

    “What do you think?”

    “We’re out of milk.”

    “What time is it?”

    “You’re stupid.”

    She was not a beautiful woman.

    “How are you, really?”

    “Do you find me attractive?”

    “Are you married?”

    “I’m a moron.”

    “How could I have avoided it?”

    “No, I’m not sorry.”

    He thought he was better off without her.

    “Forget I said anything.”

    She had grown to love the sound of rain.