“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.”
—Unknown

3 Quick Tips to Find Writing Inspiration

Have you ever sat down to write, full to the brim of creative energy, but found that you can’t think of a single idea? In my opinion, it’s one of the most frustrating feelings. Luckily there are ways to get around these obstacles and find writing inspiration.

writing inspiration

3 Ways to Find Writing Inspiration

Instead of trying to come up with something totally original, why don’t you use stories that have already been written to your advantage? If you’re ever lacking in inspiration, consider using one of these three tips to easily “steal” an idea.

1. Try a mashup

The children’s novel The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester has been described by Stephenie Meyer as “the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie meets X-Men.” And it’s the truth! By taking two fictional worlds and putting them together, this whole new wonderful story was born.

You can do the same thing. Pick two of your favorite books, movies, or TV shows and see what happens when worlds collide. They can be similar in style, total opposites, or somewhere in between. See where your imagination takes you.

2. Write “something with a twist”

What would happen if Cinderella were a science-fiction story? Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is proof that taking a well-known story and putting some kind of creative spin on it can produce amazing results.

There are endless possibilities if you try this trick yourself. How would your modern day Sherlock Holmes story read? What would happen if Goldilocks were a gothic story? Once you start brainstorming, it’ll be hard to stop!

3. Ask yourself “what if?”

This is the best question you can ask yourself as a writer. “What if” sparks your imagination and makes your fingers fly across the keyboard. I bet Jessica Khoury asked herself the same question before writing The Forbidden Wish. “What if the genie had fallen in love with Aladdin?” You can do this with any well-known story. Let yourself daydream!

What are your favorite ways to “steal” ideas? Let us know in the comments section!

PRACTICE

Pick one of the three tricks above and write a Snow White story. Will you write a “Snow White meets ‘Doctor Who'” story? Or maybe a horror story? What if Snow White had refused the apple? It’s all up to you. Once you’ve finished, feel free to share your work in the comments. Don’t forget to give your fellow writers some love, too!

About The Magic Violinist

The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at themagicviolinist.blogspot.com. You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).

  • Every time I watch The Music Man, the same idea pops into my head. What if Professor Harold Hill was younger and wiser and more cunning…. and lived today?

    Or John Carter of Mars. What he was John Carter from…. Detroit?

    And on and on and on….

  • Kevin North

    I like the idea of creating mashups. I’ve recently found success by imagining my own life mashed up with a fantasy world. What would it be like if the Force was real and I could use it? What would my friends call it? What kind of disasters could I stop? Would the FBI come hunt me down? 🙂

  • LC

    Sound like an Alice in wonderland genre…

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  • While it’s not today, I kind of did that with a short story the other day. Mine was more, “What would mental health look like if illness was healthy, and ‘normal’ was not?” Thus “Crack for Sure” was born. Here is the story:

    “So, you don’t hear voices Amy?”

    Amy looked at the on call psychiatrist and shook her head. She never heard voices, nor felt anxiety, unfortunately.

    “What about suicidal thoughts? Any trouble sleeping?”

    She
    shook her head again. She did not want to die. In fact, she wanted to
    keep on living. Why shouldn’t she? She had no trouble making friends,
    she had a family who loved her in their own way, and she was able to
    work 5 days a week. Why should she want to die? Suicide seemed so
    irrational.

    From the look on her psychiatrist’s face, that was her
    whole problem. She was rational and “normal”, and it was a too good
    combination. No one in this part of the world was like that. Why would
    you want to be like this? The psychiatrist felt happy for her, and he
    did not like it. He stood up quickly and his face crunched up, redness
    entering the skin: “Figures! My first day back on the job and I get a
    typical!”

    Amy jumped back. “I’m sorry—I don’t mean to make you mad. I cannot help that I do not get voices or have trouble sleeping…”

    “Mad?! I’m not mad! I am happy—quite happy!”

    Amy
    looked at him, confused. That’s not how happy people act. If one is
    happy you smile, and your eyes brighten, not yell and get up quickly. A
    happy person certainly does not pace around the room much. Unless… “Why
    are you yelling? Are you autistic, Dr. Cloud?”

    Dr. Cloud turned to
    look at her quickly. He crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “And
    you are very neuro-typical, aren’t you? How nice. Typicals, if I recall,
    like to have conformed body language. Happiness for them is to smile.
    How boring,” he sits and stops making eye contact with her. For the next
    10 min he is reading the 100th book of a series he cannot get enough
    of, as well as chatting on his tablet about the series with other
    people.

    Amy smiled a little at his mannerisms—she knew why he was acting the way he was with her. Yes, she thought, this man is autistic. Will I be like him through the treatment program?

    Dr.
    Cloud cut into her thoughts, though still not making eye contact when
    he spoke: “Oh yes, we have to correct this. You need to be taught to
    have non-verbal learning cut from you. You should at least pout when
    happy. We’ll start you off with no routine. You cannot have a routine,
    nor go to bed at a reasonable hour to start with while here? This will
    have to be done as an inpatient. So for the next week you’ll stay here
    and do whatever you want, stay up til at least 3am, and eat junk food.
    No healthy food, and certainly drink anything but milk and water.”

    Amy
    slumped back into her chair—No routine, and going to bed really late?
    Those were tough changes to make! She liked going to bed at 10pm and
    waking up at around 7am. What about working? “Are you… Don’t tell me I
    have to work only 2 days? I like working 5 days a week.”

    The
    psychiatrist shook his head. “Don’t you want to be different? You cannot
    work and work on being different at the same time. Not in this society;
    that was back in the old days when people like you ruled the world. I
    bet you miss the ‘good old days.’ I don’t—it’s nice to have real
    geniuses, and the schizophrenics, in charge for a change.”

    For
    Amy, the ‘old days’ were back when she was in grade school, which was
    about 8 years ago. Even in school some things never change: People flock
    to the normies and ignore the ones who would rather read alone
    in the library. But who could blame them? It wasn’t everyday they met
    someone who was a “normie”, as she was nicknamed.

    All of that
    resulted in her being here again: she neither acted out, heard voices,
    nor tried to commit suicide. Her parents tried to change it to no avail,
    and often wondered why they succeeded at parenting? No matter what was
    to blame, whether parents or society in general, here was Amy. She was
    too normal, and with a psychiatrist who was very autistic, and he fit
    right in. Typical.

    She should’ve tried to crack a while ago. Why
    didn’t she ignore the bad taste of pot, and shoved the heroine through a
    needle? Amy knew she needed to change. She wondered: “What is it like
    being autistic?”

    “Besides guaranteed work two days a week? I like
    the privacy and being mysterious: No one knows what I am thinking or
    feeling, and I don’t know what other people are thinking, thanks to my
    mixed body language and other social cues. Only thing I wasn’t blessed
    with are melt downs… Just once I would love to meltdown in public like
    my partner does.”

    “You have a partner? Do you live together?”

    He smiled. “Nope; why would we want to do that?”

    Amy
    thought and remembered: Oh yes, if you love someone you give them their
    space. You certainly do not live together. She looked down. “I have
    always tried to live with my boyfriend or girlfriend. No wonder they did
    not last. I have never melted down in public before, either. I got
    called controller and normie at school for it. Too bad it only happened
    when people thought to stop talking with their pretend friend, or not
    look out for terrorists. I could use some self-esteem decline.”

    Dr.
    Cloud looked at her and grinned, though his voice was soft and low when
    he spoke. Is he sad? Amy didn’t know, but she figured his words were
    more important than tone and body language: “Please worry, you will be
    getting it all knocked away soon enough. So much so, I’m going to start
    you own a new medication. I will put you some cocaine and meth. Take
    them as much as you like, whenever you like. Then we will see if you
    lose esteem, or enter your own world where no one can bother you. I
    could start you on something simpler, like cannabis, but it works too
    slowly we need to get you plummeted quickly.”

    Amy frowned: “But…
    Doctor, I did try pot, acid and heroine. They are tough drugs and they
    did not work as well on me; mostly because I did not like the effect or
    the taste. And needles scare me. How do we know meth and crack will work
    better?”

    “Don’t worry,” Dr. Cloud said as he filled out the
    paper, “they all come cheap and highly recommended by hundreds of other
    psychiatrists. Not just me. With this stuff, your mind will crack for
    sure.”

    In the society I am in, Amy thought to herself, it better otherwise my life will be too long for comfort.

    • Sana Damani

      This is very cool. I wish the story explored more on *why* Amy wanted to be “fixed” besides her need for conformity. Maybe there was an intervention or a court order?

      I like the play on how people sometimes practice rebellion to fit in. See https://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/09/30/how-to-be-a-nonconformist-elissa-jane-karg.

      Another thing that could be explored further is perhaps *why* society is this way in your alternate universe. The term “controller” suggests to me that maybe humanity decides that everyone is insane in some way or the other and most of us are just pretending to be normal, by hiding this insanity. Maybe some studies show that those who don’t expend too much energy on hiding their insanity are more productive? Or perhaps they think it is deceitful to do so and honesty is important to them?

      Sorry about the ramble. This story just really got me thinking. And I love stories that do that. I hope to read more!

    • rosie

      Ooh! This is lovely! You write dialogue authentically, and you pull off the concept so well! The characterization is great, with little things that the psychiatrist says to make me giggle. The role reversal could make for a really great novel, with explorations of why “normal” is so desirable in our society, and why the roles switched.
      Please write more: I’m crossing my fingers for that novel on the shelf soon! 🙂

      • Really? Seriously? Wow… We shall see!

      • OK, you win. It will take some time but I’ll write the novel 😀

        • rosie

          Yay! Good luck!

  • I’m dying to tell the story of Mercutio from Romeo & Juliet! It is said that Shakespeare had to kill him off because he was waaay more interesting than Romeo or Juliet.
    Makes you wonder why he didn’t tell his story instead of theirs!
    Sherrie
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
    http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
    Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

  • S.Ramalingam

    Of the three ways, ‘what if ‘ is the one that is really helpful than the other two.Thanks for sharing and trying to be ahead always in the writing world.

  • DiyaSaini

    Thundering clouds had stopped it’s tears, when the dense forest had heard louder cries of labour pain. Which had disappeared into tears of joy. The proud father with his bloated chest, hands clasped to his newly son, found blinking also difficult. Instantly was struck with a name for him, declared to his wife of naming him ‘Snow White’.

    Dawn was on horizon, showing it’s colours to match the birds strides. The day beckoned for an endless journey, mercy seem to be out of sight. Snow White was barely a day old, survival for all was their concern.

    As the day progressed, the sky kept changing it’s hue.

  • rosie

    It’s also great to “steal” from your own life. If you look externally too much, it might seem contrived. I think to write the story that only you can write. Steal the character of the girl who sat behind you in class and stuck bubblegum in your hair. (Change her name, of course.)
    When you make observations about the world around you, it comes off as being much more authentic. (And that way, we might get fewer writers doing the whole “dumb blonde, mean cheerleader” stereotype!)

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  • Nice advice! Inspiration really is everywhere; we just need to keep our eyes and our minds open until we see it. Although I suppose I have done some good brainstorming with my eyes shut.

    Trying a “mashup” like you said is also good advice to get some ideas flowing, and the only time it’s not a terrible idea write fan fiction 🙂

  • Peter Crispin

    This was really fun to write.

    Once upon a time there was a lovely princess named Iset. Iset could hardly remember the softness of her silk sheets, now untouched for more than a month.This voyage had contained more firsts than she had hoped for in a lifetime. She had never left her homeland, until her evil stepmother forced her to escape in secret. She had never seen a desert, before wandering in to one. She had never seen a Hippopotamus, until she watched her companions be torn limb from limb by one; now she would never forget their screams.

    For the first time, she was alone. Sand stretched to both horizons, broken only by the gentle waters of the river by which her friends had met their doom, and which now guided her fate. Her face and arms were scorched and blistered. She hadn’t eaten in days. She hardly had the will to continue.

    When she felt the cool kiss of water on her face, she almost couldn’t believe her fortune.

    She opened her eyes to see a bearded, tanned face, which split in to a smile as she stirred. His gentle brown eyes stared in to hers unblinkingly. Saying something in a language she could not understand, he handed her a skin, full of the most precious water she had ever tasted. She drained it thirstily.

    She heard another voice, and was handed a loaf of bread. Glancing around, she saw another figure, bearded like the first, which held her treasure, and five more only slightly more distant. After devouring the bread, her exhausted body quickly lost consciousness.

    #

    Iset awoke to the softness of sheets. The luxury of the feeling was like nothing she had ever imagined. Her eyes were closed. Earthy aromas filled her nostrils. Her stomach rumbled, her mouth was parched. She could hear the strange, guttural speech of her rescuers nearby. When she opened her eyes, she could see all seven, scattered around the mud brick hut which protected them from the scorching desert.

    She tried to rise and bumped her head; though she was considered short in her homeland, these curious men were at least a foot shorter than she. Her hosts laughed, before her rescuer hurried over with a bowl of soup, the source of the succulent aroma. Iset devoured the bowl hungrily, followed by two more. Her host watched patiently as she ate her fill.

    When she had finished eating,he took her bowl with a bow. ‘Kartep’, he said with a bow.

    ‘Iset’, she said with a smile, returning his bow as best she could in their cramped quarters.

    #

    The next time Iset awoke, music filled the air. Three of the little men played stringed instruments, while the other four danced merrily in a circle. Though the ceiling was too small for her to join them, she smiled, and enjoyed another of the surprises of her hosts.

    #

    Iset had no idea how long she slept. When next she awoke, the room was empty. She could hear the flow of the great river. She had to crouch to remain upright. The dwarves had left soup on the fire, and bread kept warm on it’s embers. She was so warm, so comfortable, she could almost forget the horrors that had brought her to this place.

    When the dwarves returned, they were all boisterous, and in high spirits. Each one covered in dust and dirt, and carrying a heaping sack they left by the door. Six of them sat in a circle on the floor, and all invited her to join them. Kartep, who she realized was their leader, brought over the first sack, and dumped piles of sparkling gemstones on the floor. She watched curiously as the dwarves all closed their eyes and reached in to the pile. Each drew forth a gem, laughed, and placed it before him. Some, like carnelian, she had seen in her homeland, but most were as new to her eyes as so much of this trip. Blue stones, flecked with gold, red, green and purple shards, sparkling in the firelight. The dwarves began singing, their deep voices booming off the walls. Rhythmically, they began sorting the gemstones, their practiced hands quickly sorting the stones by color, size and shape. Karate kept bringing new sacks, stomping their rhythm on the floor. She closed her eyes, and was lost in the power of their song.

    When the music stopped, Iset open her eyes. All the colours of the rainbow sparkled from their sorted piles. Kartep handed her a blue-green stone that seemed to ripple in the firelight. Like staring at the night sky on a clear night, it’s beauty took her breath away. Tears filled her eyes as she clutched the stone to her chest. She would never forget these wonderful men. Not only had they saved her life, they had helped fill it with beauty.

    Though they did not share a language, Iset grew more comfortable finding other ways to communicate with her new friends. Pictures drawn in sand helped her communicate to them her plight- the death of her companions, the distance from her homeland, the sins of her stepmother. They were able to share with her that they were brothers, and had lived in this desert their whole lives. To her joy and surprise, they offered to help bring her home.

    They left just a few days later, needing time to gather supplies for their journey. Each brother wore a huge backpack, and had their mining bag full of provisions in one hand, a mining pick in the other. Iset was not expected to carry much. Any time she offered assistance, the dwarves would merely shake their heads and smile. They retraced their path to the point they had first met, and continued back towards the gruesome sight of Iset’s earlier encounter. As they approached the river, Iset could just make out the Hippo’s eyes, just peeking above the water. She warned her companions, who dropped their bags and hefted their picks in both hands. Cautiously approaching the lazing beast, these seasoned veterans knew what to expect.

    The beast roared, springing from the water. The dwarves were ready, striking the beast almost in unison. Their strong arms made short work of the beast who had slain her companions. Her debt to them seemed to grow every day.

    When they reached the lush valley that separated her homeland from the desert, the dwarves’ faces filled with wonder. She had forgotten they grew up in the desert, they never would have seen such natural wonders as grass and trees.

    Not lingering long in that valley, they continued their journey to the village that had grown around the castle of her birth. The peasants were miserable and starving. Her father had grown sick shortly after her departure. Since the Queen had taken power, taxes left little for them them to feed their families. Seeing the pain her stepmother had wrought, Iset knew she must end her reign of tyranny.

    Together they approached the gates of the castle, Iset’s regal countenance challenging the guards to stop them. Together they strode to the throne room, the seven dwarves still carrying the blood-stained picks from their homes. As they stood before the closed doors to the throne room, Iset steeled herself for the iron will for which her stepmother was known. She pushed; the doors swung open. Her stepmother sat regally on her father’s throne. With one swift gesture, Iset sent her dwarves marching forwards. They quickly covered the distance to the queen’s honour guard, whose vain attempts to protect their ruler bought only a few seconds from their cruel picks. The queen was even quicker to fall to their blades.

    The land free from the grip of the evil queen, Iset hurried to her father’s side. Though pale and thin, his joy to see his flesh and blood again brought a tear to his eye. As Iset and her father held each other warmly, Kartep approached, two vials of liquid, one green and one purple, stoppered by the seal of the queen, grasped firmly in his hands. Bowing to the king, Kartep handed him a vial, which he was quick to drink. Within the hour, color had begun to return to his face. by the next day, he was strong enough to walk, and within the week reclaimed rulership of his kingdom. Iset’s new followers proved handy in many areas of the castle, their adept hood at cooking and mending proving an asset matched by few of Iset’s countryfolk. Though they were happy to stay by her side, Iset could see in their faces they missed the call of stone.

    When Iset’s father had returned to health, she begged him to gift to her new friends, the valley separating his lands from the desert; having heard of her adventures there, he was happy to oblige. Iset, along a retinue of craftsmen, returned with the dwarves, to the valley they would now call their own, and within the week had begun helping them construct a new home, though of wood and stone, rather than the mud brick they were used to.

    And they all lived happily ever after.

    The end.

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  • Love this post, love fantasy stories too! Look forward to reading yours.

  • Chat Ebooks

    Great post! I like the idea of creating mashups, I would never have thought of doing such. I agree that you can find inspiration everywhere as long as you keep your eyes and mind open…

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