I break all the rules in movie theaters.
Not kidding. My family makes me sit as far away from other people in the theater as possible so I don’t disturb people while writing on my phone. It’s a wonder I haven’t been kicked out yet.
I just can’t help it. I’m doing one of my favorite tips for never running out of inspiration.
And the tips work. I’ve never run out of inspiration a day in my life.
I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t had sleep problems; my brain literally can’t stop bubbling up new ideas in my evil cauldron of melodramatic inspo. I actually have to take melatonin in order to catch some Zs while it’s still dark out.
And even then, my brain doesn’t shut off. My dreams helped me decide to make a shipped couple in my novel canon!
So what’s my secret? (Besides insanity, of course. I crossed that line years ago and really don’t know how.)
Here are my top five tips that have helped me never run out of inspiration a day in my life!
1. Write Down All Inspiration the Very Minute You Get It
A short pencil is better than a long memory. You’re probably going to forget it if you don’t write it down immediately.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Remember how I’m always on my phone during movies? I’m writing down cool quotes, plot lines, scene ideas, or epic fight moves in a note entitled “Name-of-Movie Quotes/Inspiration.”
I’ve been doing this since 2016, when I began writing novels. I take inspiration from books, movies, music, things people say, things I see, dreams, daydreams, sermons, my life, even school lessons; a school lesson is what inspired my entire Warfare series!
But it’s so important to write down inspiration or ideas before you can forget them.
When you’re constantly writing down what inspired you, you’ll have an endless account of ideas to come back to when you’re stuck.
The moment I’m on the hunt for a sassy comeback or help with a fight scene, I go through my (thousands of) notes. My phone is packed with inspiration to help me kick writer’s block’s butt whenever I need it.
2. Tune In to When You Feel Most Creative
You know it when you’re in the zone; you get lost in your own world and could daydream or create for hours.
For me, that’s when I’m swinging outside with my headphones in, listening to music. I’ll literally swing for hours at a time, and my brain just goes wild with freedom. ?
I take waaaay too many “swing breaks” a day. ?
Another place is when I’m driving in the car, listening to music and staring out the window (but the car has to be moving). I adore long car rides for this reason.
Unfortunately, another place for me is my bed at night, when I’m desperately trying to sleep. You won’t believe how many scenes of my novels have been sparked when I’m lying in my bed. (One night I brainstormed 22 post ideas for this blog alone in just a few minutes!)
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Those are just a few examples, but you get my drift. Find that place, that zone where your imagination just soars.
And if you don’t have one? Go find one! Start by wherever you find yourself drifting off to daydream.
(In the middle of a class would probably not be an opportune time to get in the zone, even if you do daydream then. Just saying.)
Once you’re in that zone, write down whatever comes to mind that you really, really like.
It’s okay to give it some time to germinate and to ponder on it, but don’t move on to anything else until the idea is safely stored on paper/in your phone.
3. Don’t Copy; Be Inspired
Inspiration is not plagiarism! Don’t write down a quote from a movie and use those exact words. That’s a little sneaky.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Plus, you’ll be hesitant to use any ideas you’ve gained from places if you know you’re stealing them. And you should be, if you have morals. So don’t steal. XD
Be inspired by things.
For example, I wrote down this quote from an episode of Ninjago:
Person A: Can we stop playing the blame game and focus on what’s ahead of us?
Person B: How about what’s behind us?! *as enemy comes upon them from behind*
I ended up using those exact words in an earlier draft of my current novel, but in the fourth draft I finished and am currently macro-editing, the inspired quote ended up being:
I wince, clutching a hand to my heart as if to pull Hinoki out of it. He is behind me now.And ahead of me is a fight I have yet to finish.
Instead of using the quote’s exact words, I took inspiration from the quote about contrasting what’s ahead and what’s behind.
You most likely won’t end up doing the exact same thing as someone else. Your creation will have its own characters or premise. But still aim to take twists on what inspires you the most, especially if the inspiration is from another popular creation.
You’ll be limited if you do exactly what someone else does. But when you can take your own twists in a hundred different directions out of one piece of inspiration? The possibilities are seriously endless. ?
I just love being a Christian. I get to call above for lift-up and supernatural help while non-believers… can’t. (If you’re not a Christian, get access to this incredible tip and a lot of other awesome things like eternal salvation by asking Jesus to touch your heart.)
Last fall, I was stuck on outlining the second half of my fourth draft. Really stuck. I was brainstorming some completely new stuff, so it was pretty tough. After bemoaning it for about an hour, I laughed out loud.
You forgot to pray, you big dummy!
So I prayed. Not ten minutes later, I was scribbling in fury over two entire notepad pages, trying to get a huge, rushing waterfall of ideas out on paper.
When you make it your life’s goal to make Jesus famous and let God get involved in your writing, He’ll give you ideas no one’s thought of.
Jerry Jenkins, anyone? Author of the Left Behind series and twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. How about Janette Oke? Author of the When Calls the Heart series, which has been turned into a TV show that is the #1 Sunday night show now.
5. Take Chances in Your Own Life
I’m always nervous to take chances in life.
But whenever I do get over my nerves, I’m able to experience new things that not only influence me, but my stories.
For example, in being required to go to my first youth camp last summer, one cool thing I took away from it was how it felt to jump into freezing water and then step out to humid air.
Because my novel is set in Japan and the summers there are a lot like the summers here where I live (Valrico, FL—come stalk me!), I was able to accurately convey the feeling of it in these two paragraphs (ignore cringey early draftness):
Daring to pull a silent breath in, I slip off and land chest-deep into the river. The exhaustion from the past few days leaves immediately at the shock of the cold temperature racking through my frame. Despite the overcast humidity of the day, the water chills me to my bones.…I climb out of the river on the opposite bank, and the minute I’m out of the water, humid warmth permeates through my body.
Whenever I go through pain or hardship ’cause life is stinky (always defeating it in Jesus’ Name, of course ?) or situations that make me uncomfortable, I’m able to learn how to accurately convey the experience and emotion in my own writing.
Your own life is a constant well of inspiration, and the more of it you live, the more you add to it.
Sometimes I’m so caught up in the stories I’m creating that I forget how they’re just a reflection of real life. The more of life I live, the more realistic my stories can be, and the more inspired I am to create.
Quick Takeaway for Skimmers Like Me:
1. Write down any and all inspiration as quickly as possible, and draw it from everywhere; entertainment, life, school. You’ll have an endless account of ideas.
2. Find those moments where you get lost in your thoughts or daydreams. That’s called the Zone. Recognize that time or place and visit it regularly for a boost of creativity. Examples are alone and listening to music, driving in the car, quiet time…
3. Don’t directly copy what you’re inspired by. That’s something called illegal, and you’ll be limited if you do exactly what someone else does. But if you take your own twists on it, you can take a hundred different directions that make for endless possibilities and inspiration.
4. Pray. When you make it your life’s goal to make Jesus famous and let God get involved in your writing, He’ll give you ideas no one’s thought of. Even if you’re not creating something strictly Christian, if you’re doing what you do for His glory and your content is clean and moral, He’ll bless it.
5. I know it’s scary and nerve-wracking to get out of your comfort zone. But you’re living out research and experience to make your stories that much more powerful and realistic. Not everyone knows what it’s like to get up and speak before a thousand people, but you might, and you can convey that to your readers. (Or even everyday things like feeling your heart pound in your chest before having a hard conversation.)
Writer’s block is totally an illusion. Inspiration is out there. You’ve just gotta tap into it, and these tips are my favorite ones for doing just that!
What’s your favorite way to get inspired? Have you used any of these tips yourself?
This is AWESOME, GIRLLLL!!! Yesss Janette Oke, I love her books!!! These are amazing tips!!!
Thank you so much, Hope! Yes, her stuff is awesome! And thanks so much!
Get access to this incredible tip and a lot of other awesome things like eternal salvation by asking Jesus to touch your heart ah yes ?? HEHE AWESOME TIPS. Even though the Bible says nothing is new under the sun XD every time I ask for advice from other writers, I always get the “Have you prayed about it?” Then I realize I haven’t so I pray and it all works out. ?
I laughed while writing that part. ? True — nothing will be 100% original XD Same here! I’ll always moan about my writerly woes to my mom and she tells me to pray about it, which I so often forget to do. XD
Ahh! Yes! I think I must get an inspiration journal ASP… I also struggle to get to sleep because my mind is constantly going. It can be so annoying. All these tips were fantastic, Madi! Also NINJAGO is awesome ? just saying. XD
Same here! It’s SO annoying. XD Aww, thanks so much! And YES, it is. XD
How in the world do you do that girly if I’m in a movie theater you know that this is an extremely rare occasion and I must be super pumped about that movie and as soon as it starts I am gooone eyes glued to the screen see you after the credits. And yes, it’s a miracle you haven’t been kicked out yet. ? if you do, tell me what it’s like!
Lol I remember that ninjago quote ?
Ahhhh yes. I have two things I want to try- sword fighting and martial arts. 1, people keep telling me to get a sport, stop being a lazy coch potato. (I am a CHAIR potatoes thank you) 2, it’d be awesomeee and 3, some very good experience for my book. But NO. “Those aren’t sports” “can’t you just do soccer?” Like excuse me no, I will not be running and sweating unless I really want to. I’ll be comfortable in the cool house until I can get to a martial arts class. You want me to get some motivation in my life? Get me a sword, that’ll be motivation plenty. *crosses arms stubbornly*
besides my sister just broke her wrist playing soccer I’d rather that not happen. ?
Most crazily, ~Olive
We’ve been going to the theaters a lot recently because of all the Christian films coming out, and I’ll just forget things if I don’t write inspiration down right then! XD I will! More experience for writing. ? If you see Hinoki and Ari get kicked out of an acting theater (they had dramas/plays back then) you’ll know it’s realistic! XD
It’s so funny. ?
YES I WANNA DO MARTIAL ARTS TOO! Maybe I can convince my parents to let me take it. XD My brother’s a purple belt, but I think I’m like a… -100000 white belt.
Oh no! I hope you sister’s wrist heals quickly. (I don’t like soccer either. XD)
*snickers* ? ? ?
Oh, have you watched ninjago season six yet? (It’s free on amazon!)
We should make a petition ? ‘comment “#makeMadiandOliveawesomeninja” to sign! If we get 10,000 people to sign, their parents have to send them to martial arts classes! Scroll down to comment now!’ ?⚔️?
Oh, she’s getting a kick out of it. ‘Go get me this, go get me that. Go do this, go do that. Why? I’ve only got one arm, that’s why! And yes, I’m aware that that’s my right wrist broken, and I’m a lefty. Your point?’ ?
Most crazily, ~Olive
GASP I HAVE NOT. I really need to. ?
Comment below, people!
Well, in that case, I hope she gets better doubly fast. ? XD
Love these tips!! I’m always constantly writing down snippets of ideas in my phone, but I’m not as good about it when watching movies and TV, that’s a good idea!
Thanks so much, Chelsea! Watching movies or TV is such a great way to get inspiration. I’m constantly studying the plot lines of whatever I watch.
Great post! It just gave me a burst of inspiration. 🙂
I love sitting outside in the sun, just listening to music with a notepad and pen. But sadly, I love in BC where it rains. A lot. So I usually end up sitting at my desk.
I don’t have a phone to jot down notes so, I carry a little notebook around with me for whenever the inspiration strikes. Speaking of which, I just had an idea for my novel. *digs around desk drawer to find the notebook and scrawls down idea*
Aww, I’m glad! 😀
I don’t like it when the rain ruins my outside plans either. But at least I get to sit on the porch and get inspired by it anyway ’cause I love rain. XD
Yay! Hope that idea turns into something awesome!
Amazing post, as usual, Madi! ? I actually don’t have a phone yet (I’m not allowed one till I can pay the bills for it :P) but the I am still really excited by these ideas!
I actually don’t have any clue where my place would be. Now I really want to find it, though.
I think one of my best ways to get inspired is from my dreams. I have the wackiest things go through my head. ? But those are usually what give me my best ideas.
Aww, thanks, Julia! <3
Ooh, best of luck in finding le zone! It's an awesome place to be.
HAHA, yes! ? I write entire stories based off of my dreams. I wish I could remember my dreams all the time since I love them so much -- they have plot lines that absolutely thrill me, like epic ninja missions or me running away from good guys during the entire dream and then having to fight off a mob of angry people closing in on me — but I can only remember them if I go to sleep before midnight.
Which… never happens. ?
DUDE, I have sleep problems, too!
For the SAME. FREAKING. REASON.
Of course, I’m okay with it, except for the fact that I’m staying up until FREAKING MIDNIGHT because I can’t shut my stubborn brain off!! UGHH!!
Honestly, we have so much in common it’s scary. XD
RIGHT? I’ll literally just go “UGH!” at 3 AM because I’m just lying there unable to sleep.
We do. XD
Have you tried anything to shut your brain off that has had any success? Ooh, maybe get up and read your Bible! I haven’t tried that one! Let’s both try it and see if it works. 😉 After all, Jesus is always the answer.
I usually pray and that helps.
*gasps* I go out on my swing, too! I thought it was just a me thing. (I’m crazy as a lark) I just wish people would stop sneaking up on me. It’s a Forbidden except for those who know I swing Zone.
YAY, someone else who does it too! ?
Ahh, I hate it when people interrupt me. It’s awful. XD
I don’t have a swing. ?
Asking God for inspiration is THE BEST. I do it a lot when I write 🙂
It sure is! I have to remember to pray for it more often.
Excellent tips! I don’t write on my phone during movies, but I do carry a ton of pens and a notebook with me everywhere! It’s really helped me.
Thanks, Laura! Ooh, that’s something I’ve never been able to do. Good on you!
I would’ve pinned all your kick-butt writing quotes but I am a super-organized freak and I need to start a BOARD for that first….the quote about writing about God REALLY STRUCK ME. Thanks for that.
Aww, thanks so much! I’m so glad you like them. That means so much.
Great ideas Madi! I have bursts of inspiration when I’m in a conversation, and it’s pretty awkward when I running away screaming I have an idea for my novel when they’re in the middle of a sentence! XD
By the way, mind if I ask you something? I’ve seen here and on Ydubs that you write during night. If you don’t sleep very much, how do you stay healthy? LOL just to me it seems pretty strange. 😀
And I have to agree, being a Christian is awesome! ?
Oops, sorry you had to type this three times… does my commenting system not let you know that your comment is awaiting moderation? ?
Thank you so much! And YESSS, I have done that so many times! ?
Yep, I write during the night! XD I generally write from 9 PM to 12 or 1 AM, and I try to get up around 8:30 in the morning. (For Camp NaNo, though, I write 9-2:30 and wake up at 9 with coffee.)
After trying other writing schedules that weren’t working for me, my parents and I prayed and God said to write whenever it felt effortless, which, my entire writing life, has always been at nights. Even though I don’t get as much sleep, I believe God gives me the grace since this is what He’s called me to do. I also aim to take a small nap during the day and eat as healthy as possible to make up for it. XD
Yesss, being a Christian is the best! ? Thanks for commenting, Caleb!
Yeah…I didn’t see anything about it being posted so I had to right it three times lol I’m not sure what was going on, but it’s fine. I had to say it! XD
Sorry ’bout that! I don’t know how to get it to just display a little message that says your comment is awaiting moderation.
This is such a great post, I loved reading it.
Also I love Janette Oke’s books. She is such an amazing author!! <3
Thanks so much, Liz!
Her stuff is amazing. I have yet to read her books, but I loved the Love Comes Softly movies and, of course, When Calls the Heart.
Yeah! I have only watched When Calls the Heart, I need to read the books! 😀
[…] went to see Infinity War with my family last weekend. With Madison Grace’s tips for never running out of inspiration in mind, I sat in the cinema… and took […]
Okay, did I honestly not comment? I thought I did!! O.O So sorry!
Anyway, I loved this post… it is super helpful for coming up with ideas!
Hehe, my best time for inspiration is anytime… I keep a notebook on me (cause I don’t ever have my phone handy XD) and scribble down everything… like last week when a hole in the bottom of my ice cream cone dripped chocolate all over me IN MACY’S, and I thought, “This would be an amazing way for two love interests to first meet each other… with one of them trailing ice cream all the way through the semi-formal dress department!”
My life XD
It’s totally fine! Thanks for commenting at all, lol!
Aww, thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it!
Oh my gosh, that idea is so funny! XD I can just imagine the guy walking down with his ice cream cone drip trail and then the girl slips and he helps her up and aww. XDD
Hehe, it was hilarious and mortifying… at least I don’t think anyone saw me. 🙂 I’m getting super excited trying to write it up in my head! 😀
LOL, I’m glad no one saw! And yes, I love writing things in my head, too!
[…] love taking inspiration from things people say and infusing their emotion into my own prose and […]
Although I could comment a very large wall of text explaining how this helped me, I will not. I will merely thank you. (Also, shout out to the Writing Mafia, without whom I would not have found this post).
My pleasure; seriously! I’m so glad the post was helpful, and thanks for hopping over to check it out.
[…] you can’t force inspiration. But you can channel and encourage inspiration, and drop the belief that you need to feel inspired every time you […]
[…] Swinging is my “zone” of inspiration. I mention that in a post I did about how to literally never run out of inspiration. […]