Kim Montgomery

Written by

Kim Montgomery

9 June 2023


The Novlr Guide To Finding Writing Inspiration

Find writing inspiration - Photo by Art Lasovsky on Unsplash

Let’s face it: every writer, no matter what stage of the writing journey they’re on, has experienced those moments when their imaginations seem to have taken an unexpected vacation. We’ve all stared at that blank page, pleading with it to reveal its hidden secrets.

Inspiration is the magical thread that weaves your thoughts and ideas into new worlds. But writing inspiration doesn’t always come knocking on your door. Sometimes, you need to venture out and hunt it down.

So, when looking for writing inspiration, where do you start? Here are my top tips for where and how to find great ideas for your next story.

Tips for finding writing inspiration

#1 – Read

I know, I know. You’ve heard it a dozen times, but I’m going to say it again. To be a writer, you have to be a reader.

Now, obviously, I don’t mean plagiarism which is both against the law and ethically wrong. What I mean, is that you can find writing inspiration from another writer’s work to influence your own, or you might read something that sparks a new and original idea.

You might like the small-town suburban setting used in a book by your favourite author, but wonder – hey, what if a small town was infiltrated by a colony of flesh-eating goblins that had been living in the public library for 250 years?

Reading helps spark ideas and possibilities that you might not have otherwise considered.

Woman reading for writing inspiration

#2 – People watch

Looking out a window and watching the people walk by or sitting on a bench in a local park and observing strangers may seem an odd, pretentious, ‘writery’ activity straight out of the movies. However, noticing people and all their quirks can help create a bank of characters and potential backstories.

For example, that guy on your university campus who always wears a top hat – what’s his story? Maybe he’s a 1000-year-old aristocratic vampire that’s applied to university to assimilate into society, but he’s not quite there yet. Perhaps he’s a Victorian time traveller? What would he be like, what kind of name would fit him?

The characters you make up for random people on the street, and their respective stories, are at your disposal.

#3 – Listen to music

Music can be pretty powerful stuff. Simply listening to a singer or an instrumental track can evoke a mood or emotion within you that immediately sparks your imagination.

Why don’t we do a little writing exercise to illustrate the point?

Below, I’ve listed ten different songs. Listen to three of them, one at a time, with a break in-between each. Free write as you listen to each one. I want you to think about how they make you feel, and what emotions they stir up. Can you imagine any settings, locations, or situations that these songs might be happening in? Have you heard the song before, and if so, does it have any memories attached that you can draw from?

  1. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
  2. True Colours – Eva Cassidy
  3. Become the Beast – Karliene
  4. If I Had You – Benny Goodman
  5. Washington Square – The Correspondents
  6. Creep – Radiohead
  7. The Oak and the Ivy – Bella Hardy
  8. I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
  9. The Call – Regina Spektor 
  10. Acid Rain – Lorn

Looking for more musical inspiration? We’ve got loads of playlists over on our Spotify, so give us a follow.

listening to music for writing inspiration - Photo by Melanie Pongratz on Unsplash

#4 – Write, gosh-darn-it!

Even if you’re writing a shopping list or terribly articulated paragraph of pent-up angst, the best way to garner inspiration is to write. No matter what form it takes, it gets everything out of your head. I’ve got lists of the threads of ideas that don’t quite tie up — the miscellaneous junk that’s flip-flopping around my brain — like a short story about a 73-year-old serial killer that shanks her victims with knitting needles, or a novel with an alien protagonist who learned English by reading Shakespeare and so communicates entirely in iambic pentameter.

Need a Kickstarter to get you writing every day? We’ve got two fantastic courses in the Novlr Academy designed to do just that.

Tim Clare’s Couch to 80k Creative Writing Bootcamp is completely free, and is one of the best ways I’ve found to get that writing inspiration going. It forces you to think of ideas, solutions, characters, plot, and description in a fun way to get you from no idea to first-draft-ready in no time. 

Write to Play by Carl Burkitt is a paid course that gives you short, fun writing exercises that you can do every day to not only inspire you, but help you reconnect with your love of writing. It comes with 52 weeks of writing games and is guaranteed to get those creative juices flowing.

What better way to inspire yourself to write than… to write?