10 Practices for Maintaining a Constant Stream of Creative Writing Ideas

writing ideas

Fresh writing ideas are always at your fingertips.

Sometimes we’re overwhelmed with writing ideas. We work on multiple projects simultaneously and are constantly bombarded with new ideas that we’ll never have time to fully explore, let alone turn into active projects.

Other times we’re at a loss. Ideas are sparse and none of them hold our attention or inspire enough passion to see a project through to completion.

Ideas and inspiration remain a mystery. They are so mysterious, in fact, that thousands of years ago they were personified as goddesses in ancient Greek mythology. These goddesses were known as the muses. Of the ancient Greek deities, the muses have been the most persistent. Even today, creative people will refer to their muses and discuss inspiration as if it’s an external supernatural entity.

Most of us cannot summon new writing ideas on command, and we’ve all experienced the random arrival of a magnificent idea, which often comes at an inopportune time, like when we’re driving, showering, or otherwise engaged. We shoot down good ideas because we deem them as unoriginal. We sit and wait for fresh writing ideas to magically appear instead of nurturing our creativity and actively pursuing inspiration.

Finding and Developing Fresh Writing Ideas

If you’ve ever struggled to find inspiration, you know how frustrating it can be when you want to write but the words, the ideas, just won’t come. Creativity is fleeting, but we can nurture it. We can break bad habits, adopt good ones, and adjust negative attitudes.

Adopt a few of these practices so your imagination stays active and your pen keeps moving to the tune of a constant stream of writing ideas:

  1. Make time for creativity every day. Nothing will stifle creativity like ignoring it. When creativity strikes, give it your full attention. If that’s not possible, then set aside a little time each day (or a few times a week) to be creative.
  2. Stop trying to be so original. Writers often complain that their ideas are not good enough, not original enough. Everything has been done before. Stop trying to be different and focus on being yourself.
  3. Consume art and let it inspire you. Read as much as you can. Not only will good books inspire you, they will also improve your writing. Visit museums, listen to lots of music, and watch plenty of TV and movies.
  4. Keep an idea journal or notebook. There’s nothing worse than experiencing a flash of brilliance only to lose it because you didn’t write it down. Save those ideas!
  5. Become an observer. You’ll get some of your best ideas from taking in the world around you (and the people in it). Every day, you’re exposed to bits of dialogue, interesting stories, and funny situations. Turn these into poems, stories, articles, and essays.
  6. Foster curiosity. The world is curious place, so ask questions about it. Allow yourself to wonder at everything from the stars to human psychology. You’ll find ideas in the questions you come up with as well as in the answers.
  7. Practice writing even when you’re uninspired. Go through your idea notebook or practice writing descriptions. Make lists of words and phrases. Brainstorm character names. Just because you’re not brimming with ideas doesn’t mean you can’t get a little writing done. And as you write, ideas will start to flow.
  8. Steal ideas. Some of the greatest stories are merely echos of the stories that came before. In fact, some of the most successful stories are blatantly based on classics. Put a fresh twist on an idea that’s already withstood the test of time.
  9. Play and pretend. Children have vivid imaginations for a reason. They spend the majority of their time playing and pretending. That’s why they’re so full of ideas.
  10. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new and different. Often a change of scenery or using different tools while you’re writing will engage your imagination and get your ideas flowing.

Do you have too many writing ideas or not enough? What do you do when you’re fresh out of ideas?

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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.


14 Responses to “10 Practices for Maintaining a Constant Stream of Creative Writing Ideas”

  1. Jann Burner says:

    Another “tool” I use is a small digital recorder. Often there simply isn’t time or space to make a detailed “note” with a pen and paper but my digital recorder is always at hand and then, at least once a week, I set aside time just to transcribe my digital notes. You can get an inexpensive one these days for around $20 or a more expensive one for about $200 and you can even get one that will down load your digital voice files onto your computer and with a software program like Dragon it will even read your voice onto the printed page as prose.

  2. Sarah Allen says:

    These are such awesome ideas. I always carry a notebook around so when those moments of creativity do strike, I can keep track of the ideas that come. I also feel like taking breaks is important, because sometimes when my brain just feels like its stuck and spinning out of control, a short break or walk will get things back to normal.

    Sarah Allen

    • Breaks are definitely important. When I’m working on a large project, like a book, I certainly need to take a week off every so often. It rejuvenates me and my writing.

  3. These are terrific ideas, Melissa. I’m especially fond of #2. Sometimes we let our own inner critics and our drive to be unique get in the way of getting anything at all on the page. I’m going to save a copy of this list on my phone so I never have an excuse to let the ideas dry up.

    • I find that the inner critic is not always helpful, especially when it wants to be perfectly original. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Keep writing!

  4. Leanna says:

    I love #9. I read somewhere that children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh only 15. What happens to us, that we forget joy and imagination? Though we forget, I believe it’s not lost forever!

  5. Icy Sedgwick says:

    I teach graphic design and I often find I have my best ideas when I’m stuck up with paint and glue! I think as writers we often get caught up in thinking all of our ideas need to relate to writing, when there are so many other creative things we can try. We might never become a painter or a sculptor but they’re a lot of fun, and they can help ‘unblock’ you.

    • I agree. That’s one of the reasons I have to keep notebooks and journals. There’s something about tactile creative work that stimulates ideas. I especially like to make doodles, lists, and diagrams with pen and paper. The process boosts my creativity.

  6. Malia says:

    I keep a notebook with me everywhere I go. I recently just upgraded to a small moleskin, actually. I keep little things in there that I’d like to write about, ideas, etc.

    And when I’m really stuck and my idea notebook just isn’t panning out for me, I’ll take something in the room around me and write about. Just the other night, I wrote about a lamp that was my father’s and the entry I was writing turned into beautiful memories.

    Great post! I will be sure to tuck this one away in my vault for later use!

    • I love that you write about things in the room when your notebook isn’t panning out for you. There’s an exercise where you spend about ten minutes a day writing a description of some object. That exercise focuses on writing description, but I also like the idea of turning it into a memory or story. Thanks for commenting!


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