Figuring out what to write about is difficult. Many times, I wonder if my creative muse is on an extended vacation, leaving me to fend for myself as I wallow in my seemingly ordinary and boring ideas.

And as if to pour salt on my non-creative wounds, William Zinsser reminds us that writing is “one of the hardest things that people do,” which is true. Yet most of us must first get past the challenge of coming up with topics to write about before we even tackle the act of writing.

If that sounds like you, here are seven of my favorite ways to get the words flowing.

1. Freewrite

Years ago, I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which began my love-hate relationship with morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing (by hand) on anything at all. Cameron suggests this as a daily practice every morning. I’m not consistent about this anymore, but find the approach useful when my creativity is stuck and I need to clear my head of the muck that blocks my writing inspiration.

2. Exercise

I personally find a lot of inspiration from exercise. I run naked. I should clarify that. I run fully clothed but without the distraction of music or books on tape. There is something about the cadence of my breath and my feet hitting the pavement that brings about my creative muse. I also regularly do yoga and Pilates. But don’t rely on my experience alone. Research also proves that exercise can spark your creativity.


Sometimes all you need is a nudge, so a scan of any quote site can quickly inspire your writing. Before I wrote this article, I happened upon a quote by Jonathan Winters, “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” At the time, I was tossing around several topic ideas, becoming frustrated because none of them seemed to be a masterpiece lying in wait. Although the quote had nothing to do with this article, it gave me the oomph! I needed to forge ahead.

4. Nature

If you’re suffering from blank page syndrome, I can assure you that staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen will not help. But getting away from your computer and stepping outside can be miraculous. If I’m short on time, I’ll take a brisk walk around the block. When time isn’t an issue, I take a field trip with pen and paper. I usually land at the beach or a nature preserve where the view and sounds provide endless inspiration.

5. Eavesdrop

I don’t usually condone this behavior (so rude!), so if you’re going to try this please don’t be totally obvious or weird about it. When you’re in public, just quietly listen and observe. People are amazing sources of interesting ideas. I love bringing my writing journal to Starbucks, sitting at a table and quietly hearing everyday conversations while I sip my Americano. I usually leave with pages of potential writing topics.

6. Flickr

Most everything I write, from blogs to email newsletter articles, needs an accompanying image. Usually I select an image after I write, but when I’m stuck, I search for an interesting image first. Flickr is filled with great photography that can inspire your writing. By the way, if you’re browsing Flickr and think you might want to use an image for your blog or email newsletter, be sure to perform a search using Advanced Settings, so you can select to “Find content to use commercially.” Please don’t break any copyrighting laws.

7. Break routine

I believe in routines. They keep my life organized, and generally, reduce my stress. But when it comes to creativity, routines can be limiting. If you find yourself in a creative rut, consider shaking things up a bit. It could be as simple as parking your car in a different spot at your office (I know you park in the same spot everyday!), or as life changing as cutting soda from your daily diet. It’s amazing how small, or large, shifts in your day-to-day routine can inspire new ideas and perspective that influence your writing.

What inspires your writing?

My list is by no means exhaustive. So let’s hear it. What inspires your writing? Leave a comment below or go to our Facebook page to share other ways you find inspiration to write and check out what others have to say about it.

Image credit: Flickr/familymwr

About The Author:


Michele Richardson is an internal communication consultant and speaker on a mission to build workplaces where people are led by passion and purpose. She advises executives and organizations on how to attract, engage, and retain top talent through the art of communication and the science of organizational behavior. Her clients include Boeing, Toyota, CareerBuilder, Sodexo, and KPMG.

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