Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration (Art Begets Art)

writing inspiration

Where to find writing inspiration.

Do you ever sit down to write only to discover hours later that you’ve done nothing but stare off into space with a blank look on your face, occasionally breaking from your stupor to notice that you haven’t written a single word?

Conversely, have you ever noticed that after watching an intoxicating film or listening to a mesmerizing piece of music, you feel that creative impulse start to throb, luring you to your keyboard or notebook?

Don’t Tell Me It’s Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is nothing more than a myth. In some cases, it’s an excuse. Creative writing is not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding. Creative writing requires skill, focus, motivation, and inspiration. When we’re tired, emotional, hungry, or distracted, we’re not suffering from writer’s block; we’re just stressed out like everybody else.

But sometimes what’s lacking is writing inspiration.

Writing Inspiration

If you want to keep your creativity flowing, start by taking care of yourself. Make sure you eat right, get plenty of rest and exercise, and keep your emotions in check by finding ways to be happy.

You have to take special care of your creativity too. Feed your imagination and keep a journal so you can store ideas for later use. Try some creative writing exercises to get yourself going in new directions. And absorb art.

When you take some time to experience a little art or entertainment, you’ll find that your creative juices really start to flow. Not only will you enjoy yourself, you’ll also massage your creative muscles and come away with fresh writing inspiration for your own projects.

Art Begets Art

Haven’t you heard? Creativity is contagious. The more you expose yourself to it, the more creative you’ll become. Here are five tips to keep the breeding grounds for writing inspiration fertile:

  1. Watch a movie, preferably a good one. It doesn’t matter which genre or whether it’s an award-winning film. The key is to pick a movie that speaks to you, the kind that leaves you feeling reawakened.
  2. Read a book or even just a chapter. This is sure to get you back in touch with your muse, but make sure that whatever you read when you’re looking for inspiration is something that fully engages you.
  3. Peruse art and photography. You can go to a museum or check out the many art sites on the web. Sometimes when I need a break from writing, I type something into Google, click the images button, and spend a few minutes enjoying the beauty of art and imagery. It’s good refreshment for the mind.
  4. Listen to music. One of the best things about listening to music is that you can do it while you’re also doing other things, like exercising, driving, cleaning, or working on your creative writing projects. Then again, you can just lie back, relax, and let yourself get swept away by the sounds. Or, you can…
  5. Dance. Not only will dancing get your blood pumping, it will increase your energy level. You’ll be listening to music all the while, so this one’s a double hitter with the added benefit of exercise!

Next time you find yourself floating around inside your own headspace when you should be forging your masterpiece, take a break to take care of your body and mind, and then go take in a movie or an album or some incredible artwork, and let someone else’s art beget your own. That’s how you get creative writing to come naturally and effortlessly!

Do you have any tips for finding creative writing inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


34 Responses to “Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration (Art Begets Art)”

  1. Amanda says:

    Great post, I was thinking about the same thing recently. In fact I decided that hands-on creative staff – crafts or painting or drawing for example – work even better for me because my brain thinks it is distracted by the actions (more so than if I’m reading or listening to music) but in fact it’s subconsciously solving the problem in the story I’m writing because the art/craft act has opened up that creativity flow a bit more.

    I also agree with you that writer’s block is a myth but I guess some people won’t agree …

  2. Zoe says:

    This post is great timing for me — I had a really crappy writing day, and I needed this reminder. I don’t believe in writer’s block either, but it’s true that we need to constantly stimulate our brains in different way. Guess this post explains why I always seem to have brilliant ideas at the most inconvenient times :).

  3. Writer Dad says:

    I never get writer’s block, only writer’s lack of time or writer’s lack of focus. However, as much as I adore movies, now that I started writing I can’t shut my writer’s brain off long enough to watch one. I have to have a notebook on my lap.

  4. Marelisa says:

    Hi Melissa: There’s this myth about the artistic person being someone who is emotionally tortured and who basically destroys their health for their art. But the truth is that the more you play, and are happy, and use humor to relax, and take care of your health, the more creative you are.

  5. t. sterling says:

    Wow, Writer Dad and Marelisa strucks hit some points for me. I either don’t have time to write when I want to write, and when I do, I’m distracted by anything and everything. But my mind stays in movie mode and I struggle to flip it to writing, so I’m in front of the movie screen for another couple hours.

    I think because I’m mostly positive and somewhat a happy person with s strong sense of humor, it keeps my creativity pretty high. I’m constantly poking fun at things I see in life and being inspired by the littlest things. I even get inspired by events on the news, and some how tried to make it a comedy.

    But I love to listen to music when I’m not feeling any inspiration, as well as a good movie. But really good lyrics frequently triggers something in me to grab a pen and then I’m gone. Jazz music makes me want to grab a paintbrush.

  6. @Zoe, why do the best ideas show up at the worst times? I always get them in the shower, which is not a good place to bring a laptop or a notebook. Otherwise, they strike at 3 AM, when I’m too tired and not awake enough to sit up and write anything down. Argh!

    @Writer Dad, I watch a little TV every Monday night (after all, that’s when Heroes is on) and I always have a notebook or my computer nearby — just in case!

    @Marelisa, I know that myth! In fact, I was a believer back when I was a teenager. Now I know better, and you’re right: happiness is very conductive to creativity!

    @t.sterling, from reading your blog, I know you’re really good at letting other art inspire your writing. It’s always fun to read about the movies you’re watching and the music you’ve got going on iSaak. Hehehee.

  7. B J Keltz says:

    Great post, Melissa, and timely. I had to laugh at Writer Dad because I do the same thing. Hubby knows that dinner out is a nice restaurant, me, him, and my notebook! I always have it open and ready.

    I, too, get great ideas and want to write when I’m not supposed to (e.g. at the day job). I manage to take good notes, though!

    Thanks for the link, Melissa, and for the great post. 🙂

  8. Friar says:

    Another “radical concept” to fight writers block (which works for me) is to just get the Eff out of the house, and GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME EXERCISE !!!

    Jog, cycle, walk…hike..hopscotch…whatever. It’s all good. Just get some air into your lungs, work up a sweat, and get some sun on your face!!

    Sometimes we need to get off our collective arses, and just UNPLUG ourselves from the grid. Even for a few hours.

    It’s amazing how much this helps your creativity.

    I often get my best writing ideas while working out, actually.

  9. --Deb says:

    Playing with my dog works, too. He’s funny and creative and comes with a built-in adrenalin rush!

  10. Bobby Revell says:

    Hi Melissa, it’s really nice to meet you and this is my first time commenting here. I do all those things and more. I see writers block in reverse. Instead of not being able to create or incite new ideas, I carve away things to get what I need. I have endless ideas – sometimes too many – and I have strip away the unessentials.

    I agree, writers block is a myth. Sometimes, I hear or read one sentence and 25 pages are spawned. I am a writing addict…lol. Very useful article Melissa 🙂

  11. Kate says:

    Terrific post. I’m printing it out now and putting it in my writing folder.

    I agree. Sometimes when I just sit down to write, nothing gets written and I’m frustrated. Then when there are times that I didn’t schedule the time to write like when I’m watching a movie or a great book, I get inspired and the words just spill on the page. Sigh. However, most of my creative writing is done when I don’t schedule it. I seldom get ideas in the shower but I’ve been there. 😉

    The same with Writer Dad, I have to have a notebook on my lap now every time I watch a movie. You never know when a great idea pops out. When there’s no notebook in sight, you can always use your hand. Heroes is also one of the things I missed since coming to China.

    Trailers are a also a great source of writing inspiration. My series, The Devil Wants You Dead was inspired after a trailer.

  12. @ B J Keltz, you keep your notebook out and open on the table during dinner? I’m impressed! I always hide mine in my purse, but I like your way much better.

    @Friar, I don’t know what my problem is, but I rarely get any ideas while exercising. However, I do know that if I’m exercising regularly, I get a lot more ideas while I’m doing other things, so exercise is key to staying creative!

    @Deb (Punctuality), oh yes, there’s nothing better than taking a little break to play with the furry members of your family. Interacting with animals is a great de-stresser. Did you know that? Proven fact.

    @Bobby, hello and welcome! I was perusing your blog last night and you certainly do write a lot (loved that piece about Marianna by the way)! So many ideas and so little time — that’s the other writer’s curse — the opposite of writer’s block is too many ideas and not enough time.

    @Kate, creativity is so inconsiderate — always showing up at inopportune times! I didn’t know you were in China! Wow. You know, you can watch Heroes online at NBC or download it from iTunes. Trailers as in movie trailers? I love watching movie trailers. In fact, sometimes that’s the best part of a movie — the trailers at the beginning, heheh.

  13. t. sterling says:

    @Friar, is that why squirrels show up in your posts? Attacking you while you hopscotch? Running has only given me inspiration for music videos (due to the music) while *driving* inspires much more. But the point is getting out and sometimes just driving around town or getting lost brings fresh ideas to mind. Also it’s due to the music.

    @Kate, hulu (dot) com also has the latest episodes of Heroes, plus many other shows and movies.

    @Melissa, I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves trailers. It’s really too bad when a trailer ends up better than the movie. I can’t think of any examples right now, but one of these Friday’s I’ll post a few on favorites since I can now watch them on iSaac. And yes, I will watch a trailer a few times if I really like it. I’ll see the new X-Men trailer this weekend. Speaking of Heroes, isn’t Sylar awesome again? He’s becoming my favorite all-time villain (sorry Joker).

  14. @t.sterling, no! I don’t like what they’re doing with Sylar at all. He was just getting interesting and complicated. Heroes does this all the time, and it’s the only thing I don’t like about the show. They open up a character and start to explore them and then suddenly do a 360. For example, I love LOVE LOVE whenever Sylar is nice.

    -Why kill off Nikki Sanders, a character who was a fan favorite? Where’s Micah?
    -Peter needs his powers back. Now. This is not a question. It’s a demand. Why didn’t he get them back after the eclipse? Or in the last episode? Do we have to wait till he gets injected with the formula (how predictable!)?
    -Why is Nathan such an ass? Are we really to believe he’s that naive?
    -Shouldn’t Claire be in school? Did she graduate?
    -Is Mohindar turning into a bug? That movie is called THE FLY. Abilities are one thing, turning into monstrous bug — I just don’t know about that.
    -Angela Petrelli should have finished the job herself and not sent Peter to do it. What’s wrong with that woman?

    I love the show (and as you can see, I can talk about it forever), but I do see flaws every now and then. Still, it’s one of my favorite shows of all time.

    Oh boy, my geek is really starting to show.

  15. B J Keltz says:

    He learned over a few months that I was happiest with my notebook around. I don’t always write in it during dinner, but it is there, and that is comforting. Of course if he leaves the table for any reason, I’m well occupied. 😉

  16. t. sterling says:

    @Melissa, hopefully you didn’t spoil too much for Kate with your questions, and it’s funny that you have so many of them because my parents demand I watch the show with them because apparently I have “inside information.” (I don’t I just pay attention and browse the internet. And you don’t need to by shy about geeking out as long as there are other admitted geeks present. ;o)

    -I can’t figure out why Nikki was killed but I’m glad Larter is still on the show. (At the end of the season, the writers were debating whether or not she lived through the fire… we know what they chose.) I hate her character now but I love her power. Since Nikki is dead, there’s no need to keep Micah and he was let go, even though he had cool powers too.
    -I thought the eclipse would restore Peter’s powers too, and I agree, he’ll get his powers back thanks to the fruit punch formula, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t.
    -I’m starting to sometimes wish Nathan was better off left for dead at the end of season 2. Maybe they are setting him up as the new arch rival for Volume 4. Or maybe he’ll die… again.
    -Perhaps it’s summertime and Claire is on vacation OR her family has moved so many times that her school wouldn’t notice her being there anyway.
    -I wanted to see the Future Mohinder. I thought he was a lizard, but I have no idea. He’s gross. I’m not sure I’d miss his character, honestly.
    -Angela? I dunno about her.
    -Sylar was great as a super nice guy, and it was interesting to see how that would play out, but awesomely bad Sylar? No doubt the writers keep twisting things up. Sometimes for better or for worse. Bryan Fuller is coming back, so that sounds hopeful.

  17. Kate says:

    Oh Melissa you did, you did spoil it for me. I’ve only watched the middle of Season 2 and I’m now shocked (spoiler alert) Nikki is dead. (dies with horror!). What’s this about Sylar being nice (just shows how I desperately need to catch up with Heroes now) ?

    Yes, movie trailers and thanks a lot for the bits on where to watch heroes t.sterling and Melissa! After reading about Nikki, I’ve promptly squeezed my eyes shut before learning any more shocking details.

    I’m a total geek and I absolutely adore watching trailers over at apple.com. Can’t wait to read your post on trailer favorites. Some of my current favorites that I can’t stop watching are The Watchmen, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and Happy Go Lucky. A trailer I liked that was better than the movie was The Golden Compass based on the book The Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman.

  18. @B J Keltz, I can’t think of a better way to occupy your time while waiting at the dinner table! Hehehee!

    @t.sterling and Kate, oops. I almost revealed even more than I did, but a little voice in the back of my head kept whispering “Don’t write that! That’s a spoiler.” The Nikki Sanders one slipped by, I guess. I’m sorry about that and will try to do a ***spoiler alert*** next time.

    Kate, I hope you get caught up on the show, then we can really discuss!

    *** spoiler alert ***
    t.sterling, I agree with you on just about everything, except I think Nathan is integral to the show (he’s the one with government connections). Mohinder is one of my favorite characters other than this latest development. I thought the storyline with Maya was really good and it was nice to see that human, affectionate side of the good doctor. What Sylar did recently with regards to Elle — I don’t think he would have done that based on how his character had been evolving (of course, his personality shift could have been due to the eclipse). I especially feel that way because of what he said to Peter at the end. Should we be having this discussion at a Heroes forum or something?

  19. Deb says:

    okay, I’m late to the party and I have no clue what Heroes is but that is probably age-related.

    Anyway, while I toss around the term “writer’s block” that is not exactly my perception in the moment. I feel more like frozen; like something is holding me back (probably me) from hitting the first/next key.

    Sometimes there is too much and it’s all in a jumble; sort of like trying to knit after the cat has taken a spin with the yarn. Trying to untangle and sort out individual threads can be overwhelming. (And I don’t knit but I occasionally crochet.)

    • Deb, Heroes is a TV show about humans with special abilities. They can fly, read minds, stuff like that. Very sci-fi/superhero. If something’s holding you back, then tell it to get out of the way! I know sometimes we need to take a break from writing. Other times, we need to push through whatever’s holding us back. When I get stuck, I usually turn to some kind of writing exercise to get myself going again.

  20. t.sterling says:

    @Kate, I was going to write about favorite movie trailers about a month from now but I was flooded with inspiration and decided to talk about them today. I think after doing “research” I’ve realized I’m a bigger fan than I thought. It can’t be that bad, people get paid to make these tiny movies!

    @Melissa, I’ve been to the Heroes forums, they aren’t as cool or as friendly. Perhaps you can write about an exercise and perhaps tie it into Heroes and it’ll really be a front to just geek out.

    —spoilers alert—
    I really didn’t want Elle to die, I think I developed a crush. Plus I love her power. When I was younger, thats pretty much what I wanted for a superpower. I was actually started to have a thing for Maya too now that I think of it. It was nice to see Mohinder get some action, I just really didn’t want to see it. And this is where the forums actually became fun because after he hooked up with Maya, that’s when we got to see what was happening, and the jokes started appearing about STDs.
    You make a good point about Nathan. Perhaps he really is just naive. Or maybe easily persuaded. And the show wouldn’t quite be the same without him around anyway. I really can’t wait until the next volume… I don’t even know what’s going to be happening, or even how Villains will end… I’m just excited for the sake of being excited. If you can’t tell, this is the only show that I plan on watching. (That’s a partial lie.)

    t.sterlings last blog post..fripodding trailer trash part 1

    • @t.sterling, I’m half tempted to put up a whole Heroes blog! It makes for pretty good conversation.

      — spoilers alert —
      I was surprised they killed off Elle because she was a strong counterpoint to Claire. Plus, her action with Sylar was pretty hot. Maya’s actually a little annoying to me — too whiny. Nathan is just a wimp. My biggest complaint still has to do with character development. They start going in some direction but always end up back where they started. It’s like the writers can’t get the characters to truly change (other than giving and taking away abilities). I have to say that Hiro and Peter are still my two favorites. Claire is a close runner-up and of course there’s no bad guy quite like Sylar!

      • t.sterling says:

        I can’t even fully reply right now… The last Heroes of the year is about to come on.

        t.sterlings last blog post..in my mind, i’m already gone

      • t.sterling says:

        I apologize for that last reply… I was a little trigger happy and meant to write more, but it was also time for Heroes, so I didn’t have time. Surely you understand.

        Anyway, I knew Elle was going. I didn’t want her too either and I liked her working with Claire. Or even fight Claire. I don’t know if you read the graphic novels on nbc.com, but one of the stories talks about how much Elle dislikes Claire and really adds to the story.

        Your favorites are also mine, but some how that doesn’t surprise me. I love Hiro’s childlike enthusiasm… even when he’s a child. Plus who wouldn’t want his power? Or Peter’s?

        But after seeing this last episode, I think you’re going to need to start that Heroes blog.

        • Of course I understand…I read some of the graphic novels when they first came out, but then I got really busy. Maybe I can catch up on those over the holidays during the little bit of down time I scheduled for myself. Don’t even tempt me with the Heroes blog idea! Don’t even…oh boy.

        • t.sterling says:

          From one fan to another, it’s definately worth checking out (the graphic novels) and if you stopped reading them, you have A LOT to catch up with. But like I just said, I thought it was worth it. I like backstories and that’s exactly what most of them were. So with some of that time you took off, devote a few hours to some reading. And still staying on topic to what this post is about, it inspired a few stories of my own that I had jot down while I was reading. All that started was me saying “What if…” and then I filled up a post-it note (I was at work at the time). I’m still fleshing out that idea in my head for the time being.

          But I won’t tempt you to start a Heroes blog… until February. I seriously hope and believe that this next volume will bet back to the hot show it once was. Speaking of “hope” …what was up with Mr. President??? I’ll leave that one alone… for now.

        • Oh yes, I noticed Mr. President too. I think Heroes is just keeping it real. A blog about the show would be a lot of fun, but I’m afraid one more project might make my brain explode. February, hm? We’ll see. Now if I could just squeeze in a couple of hours to read those graphic novels…oh and I think they have special episodes that are only available online. But I have to say that the Heroes website is a bit of a pain to navigate. Grr.

        • t. sterling says:

          The website is a pain. I so very much agree and I’m happy to know I’m not the only one. Sometimes thats what keeps me from keeping up with my fandom. Sad but true.

          And not that I’m sounding like I’m ENCOURAGING a Heroes blog, but you’d only have to update it whenever there is a new episode. But I completely understand about having enough on your plate as it is. I barely have time to sleep. I’m not complaining, I like staying busy. But I really like sleep.

        • Which website is a pain? If Writing Forward needs fixing, you just let me know!

          Oh yes, updating a Heroes blog just once a week — right! I think that show provides enough fodder for lots of posts each week, one for each storyline, then there’s the backstory, the graphic novels, online episodes, oh boy. But it would be so much fun. I just don’t know if fan sites are my thing. Hm.

  21. t. sterling says:

    No! Not your site! Your site is awesome. Looks great and it keeps getting better. Especially now that my breakfast face can be used. Although the commentluv doesn’t work when I’m at work. But that’s fine. It doesn’t work at all on my site so that’s that.

    And if your Heroes blog doesn’t work out, and you can always let it go. You can call it an experiemental project, as well as just something fun to keep you and other fans entertained until the next episode (or something on the site) is released. It’s supposed to be fun, so no stressing.

  22. P.I. Barrington says:

    To the great list above, I’d add travel. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of miles away just somewhere that’s beautiful (even in a small way) and or quiet and peaceful. Maybe a museum or art store or even a crafts store! Sometimes just leaving the house for an hour or two helps.