When I am stumped for an idea I look to the randomness of the universe to provide inspiration. Whether I am looking for ideas on a specific topic or theme, or if I’m working from a blank slate and seeking general inspiration — I can count on the random nature of the world (and the randomness of the internet) to provide more inspiration that I can possible use. I can go from an empty page to and overflowing one in no time at all.
I’ve shared this idea in an article about my personal writing habits, but I find collections of photographs a rich resource for sparking new ideas. Sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash and display random images on their homepages. Simply scrolling through photos and letting my brain make connections and links to other ideas bouncing around in my head will usually spark several ideas for new articles, color combinations, fictional stories, or even movie scripts. I’ve even had photos to give me an idea for connecting with sales prospects.
And those are just the random images.
If you have the keyword for a specific subject you needs ideas about, typing those words into the photo search tool will give you plenty of targeted images you can use to spark ideas.
Although I prioritize photos over words for inspiration (they’re worth a thousand words, right?) I find the Word Of The Day feature on sites like Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com to be very useful in either providing focus or an effective distraction I can use to get the ideas flowing. I can use the featured word as-is and build an idea around the exact word or its definition, or I can take a break from trying to force an idea from my brain and simply start writing about anything — but requiring myself to use the featured word as a meaningful part of the composition (which gives my brain a different problem to solve).
I also like using Thesaurus.com to enter any word and get synonyms I may be able to use in order to spark more idea or deepen the concept by finding more vivid and emotional words.
And of course there are tons of Quotation sites to find inspirational phrases you can use to energize and inspire yourself — but never underestimate the inspirational power of simply grabbing a book off your shelf and opening to a random page and using what you find there to ignite your imagination.
If you can find inspiration on your own, perhaps you will find it out among the people. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, museums, grocery stores, libraries, and other random public places where interesting people gather (and all people are interesting in their own way) can provide all sorts of insights and stimulation for your to absorb.
You can let bits of their conversation drift to your ears and use your imagination to fill in the blanks about what they’re talking about, why it’s important, and how they’re going to handle it. You can also use your observational skills to see what sort of inventive backstory you can give to the people around you. Is that person actually a secret agent with a foreign government? Is that man over there a hit-man stalking his next victim?
I’ve amused my wife by doing entire comedy stand-up routines while browsing the shelves at our local grocery store, and particularly funny lines I come up with are quickly jotted down in my mobile notes app for use in a future story or presentation.
No matter what you’re doing, keep your head up, eyes and ears open, and a note pad handy because while Inspiration may be found randomly — it’s rarely found accidentally.
You always have to be on the look-out for inspiration (otherwise how will you know when you’ve found it?).