You sit at the keyboard, ideas rushing through your head. But every time you type them out, you realize it’s something that has already been done. Or, it just feels dry. It doesn’t feel fresh.
You have to wonder, “How in the world do I find new ideas? I have the same old ideas going through my head. Everywhere I look, those ideas have already been done. I need inspiration to write fiction.”
After a while, you start to feel a bit hopeless. There’s nothing new to be written. Or, maybe you do find some inspiration, but it doesn’t stick, and you have to find another source of inspiration, which doesn’t stick either!
Well, fear not! This is a common problem with writers, especially those who are new or have just finished their first project. They want to keep writing, they want ideas.
So how do you find that “Eureka!” moment, where inspiration strikes you? Where do you find your next big story idea?
Well, if you keep reading, I am going to tell you how exactly to find inspiration to write, discover your niche and genre, and get the “Eureka” moment for both fiction and non-fiction writers.
What is Inspiration?
What does it mean to be truly inspired? Inspiration can be defined as “Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone”.
So how do you find something to help you find new ideas for writing? And how do we do that as young writers? Not only that, but how do young writers find sources of inspiration that keep on going? That keeps on giving good ideas?
Well, let’s dive in.
How to Find Inspiration To Write Fiction For Young Writers
As a young fiction writer, it’s hard to find inspiration for your next big story. As I’ve started and brainstormed new stories, I’ve gotten overwhelmed. “Where am I even supposed to start?” I’ve thought. “Everything’s already been done!”
But one of the best places to find inspiration is to look at what’s already been done.
Look At What’s Already Been Written
What genres do you like to read about as a young fiction writer? Do you like sci-fi? Do you enjoy adventure? The best place to start getting story ideas is to look at some of your favorite stories!
I used to be a hard-core fantasy writer. But after reading Sharon Cameron’s The Forgetting and The Remembering, I fell in love with the dystopian and sci-fi genres. I’d also read other sci-fi and dystopian books like The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson that I loved, and so my heart became set on developing a story in the sci-fi and dystopian genre.
So, the doubts and dryness entered my head again as I thought about what kind of story I wanted to write. How was I supposed to just come up with a sci-fi story on the fly? Where was I supposed to get that kind of information?
The inspiration came after I started reading Melissa Meyer’s Cinder.
As I fell in love with this story, I discovered several tricks to gain inspiration from reading other stories.
3 Tips To Find Inspiration From Reading Other Stories
1. Look at the Plot Elements
The main premise of my new story is about a girl who is a cyborg who lives in a city full of androids. The main character of Cinder is a cyborg, and I loved the technological possibilities of this certain plot element. I decided to draw inspiration from that.
The premise of Cinder and my story are totally different, but I loved the idea of a cyborg character, and for a sci-fi story, that is not unusual to find.
When looking for inspiration for new plot ideas, look at the different plot elements of other stories in your genre and see how you can twist and change those around to make them your own.
2. Look at the Characters
The characters are probably the best part of a great story. When you think of any story, you may think of the plot, the world, and other elements, but as human beings, what do we latch on to?
We latch on to other people. In stories, where characters are going through difficulties and growth, we relate to their struggles. In great stories, to get inspired, what characters do you love the most?
For me, I fell in love with a character after watching part of the first X-Men movie and reading some of the comic books. I fell in love with the character Rogue, who because of her mutant powers, is unable to touch any other living being.
Although I don’t have mutant powers, I relate to Rogue heavily, because I desire to be with and love other people. I felt heavy sympathy for Rogue because she was not able to love other people the same way we can as normal human beings.
Now Rogue is a huge inspiration for my current sci-fi story. No, she doesn’t have the same powers or traits as Rogue, but one of her driving desires is to love others. As a cyborg being surrounded by empty metal robots, she desires to love others and be loved. However, androids can’t feel and love like human beings can.
3. Look at the Setting
Now, I mentioned that characters are what people latch onto in a story, but when reading in your genre, settings do play an important part. When you read to find inspiration, look at the settings. Find what settings you love, and what settings you dislike.
For instance, in reading Cinder to find inspiration for my new sci-fi, I discovered that I don’t like the idea of an intergalactic setting, where there are several planets involved. While I admired this in Cinder, I didn’t like the idea for my own story. However, I did love the futuristic setting in Cinder, and the different elements that were involved. So in brainstorming my sci-fi, I’m adding more futuristic elements.
Again, in reading to find inspiration, do not plagiarize. Draw different ideas, but no details. For instance, if I were to make the MC of my sci-fi a mechanic who falls in love with a prince, that would be plagiarism because those are key details in Cinder.
In the same way, if I used some of the terms that were in Cinder like the word “hover” as a term for a car, that would be plagiarism as well, because that term is unique to the world that Meyer created.
So, in using reading to find inspiration, take general ideas from books and genres that you enjoy and apply them to your story. This will never fail because you love books for a reason. Others love books for a reason. Look at the details that make books amazing, and mirror (not copy) those in your own story.
Using Other Writers To Find Inspiration
The next best way to find inspiration for young fiction writers is to brainstorm with others. Other writers struggle with not knowing what to write too. Every writer has struggled with this in some way or form. So finding others to help you brainstorm is very helpful because they can relate to what you’re feeling.
When you find others to help you find inspiration, they can give you many new ideas that you may have never thought of before. Not only that, but they can give new perspectives on different ideas, especially if a writer is more advanced than you because they’ve most likely written in your genre longer than you have.
If a writer has written in a genre for a long time, they can show you different things that are expected of that genre. For instance, if your genre is contemporary, they can show you some different dos and don’ts of contemporary fiction.
Contemporary novels typically don’t have intergalactic battles. They have quiet, realistic conflicts. Another writer could help you brainstorm some realistic conflicts for that novel, especially if they have had more life experiences and have written contemporary longer than you.
The Good Pain Other Writers Bring
Other writers can also help you where you are weak. That’s why having other writers is important. If you’re weak in brainstorming plots, find someone to help you give ideas for plot and plot elements.
Writers that are stronger than you can also help you by telling you what ideas are sustainable and what isn’t. This can be painful, but in the end, it can help you build a beautiful story. Other writers can say “This idea won’t work,” and you’ll have to painfully shed that idea, but if the writer cares, they will help you brainstorm a new one.
With help, shedding old ideas and finding new ones is a lot easier than it is alone.
Nerd Vs. Free Spirit
Dave Ramsey talks in his Financial Peace University of two types of people when it comes to money: nerds and free spirits. “Nerds actually like the feeling of order and control they get when they pay bills on time (or early), and they’ve probably got a spreadsheet that shows all their payments for the last five years.”
Free Spirits are, well, the other way around.
What does this have to do with writing? Well, most of the time, writers are sectioned off into two different categories. Plotters, who plan their stories meticulously by each plot point. Or pantsers, who write by the seat of their pants. Whatever comes into their head.
If you think about it, the Nerds and Free Spirits of money sound a bit like the Plotters and Pantsers of writing. But guess what, Ramsey talks about how Nerds and Free Spirits can work together. In this article, he discusses how they can work together in marital finance, but I want to apply this to writing.
When trying to find inspiration, plotters, you may need a little pantser friend. Plotters and Pantsers (Nerds and Free Spirits) can balance each other out. Plotters, are you having a hard time finding inspiration? Is your outline lacking “pizzazz?” Pantsers come up with ideas quickly, and they enjoy it. Find a pantser, and brainstorm with them, it will help.
On the flip side, pantsers, are you trying to outline and failing miserably? Is your writing less inspired because it lacks structure? Find a plotter: they can help you not only brainstorm but also give structure to your novel. When I first started plotting my first story, I was so dejected, and my story was lacking, even though I was normally good at finding ideas.
But then I got a plotter to help me. Now my story is on its first draft, and I’m making wonderful progress.
Where Do I Find Other Writers?
Other writers can help you by giving you new ideas and new perspectives. Plotters and pantsers can also balance each other out in the inspiration process. Finding other writers is definitely a wonderful way to find new inspiration to write.
But now you may be thinking “Well that’s nice and all, but where am I supposed to find other writers? How am I supposed to find inspiration when I can’t even find young writers like me?”
1. Writing Specific Communities
Well, first, let me offer that we have an amazing online writing community with a ton of other writers. Not only can you find people to inspire you, but you can find good writing friends, mentors, you can have others critique your work, and you can critique others’ work. Not only that, the YWWC has writing sprints and other fun writing events.
The YWWC is probably one of the best young writing online communities out there. It’s definitely been a huge source of growth for me. But there are several others.
Story Embers, which is a Christian writing website started by Josiah DeGraaf (who is also one of our instructors), has a free online forum. Kingdom Pen does as well and is Christian-based. NaNoWriMo has a forum for young writers, but it isn’t Christian, so discernment is necessary. Go Teen Writers also has a Facebook Group, but again, it’s not explicitly Christian, so discernment is advised.
And of course, online safety is a concern and issue with all of these so parental guidance is recommended.
But online writing communities are a good place to find other young writers to help you find inspiration.
2. Your Local Community
The next best place is your community! Look for other young writers in your community, in your school, and in your church. I was very surprised that two other girls in my class at school liked to write, and now I love to talk to them about writing and pass ideas by them.
3. Your Family
I was incredibly excited when I realized that my uncle would be in town when I was visiting my grandma. He’s a writer, and though he’s had a hard time getting published, he’s a good writer.
I was finalizing my outline and asked him to look over it. He provided really good feedback, especially about my characters. He gave me a ton of new ideas for my characters and my plot.
I didn’t realize how valuable a family member’s feedback and ideas could be, even one who is a writer. If you’re looking for someone to give you ideas to write, look to the people closest to you. We often overlook them, which is a big mistake.
Resources For Writing Groups
I wanted to give you guys yet another idea for writing groups and finding other writers because you can also make your own! Marita Wilson wrote an amazing article on finding and organizing writing groups. I think it is extremely helpful, and since we are talking about other writers, I think it would be beneficial for me to mention it. You can find the article here.
Finding Ideas Through Writing Prompts
The last method I have for young fiction writers is to find inspiration through writing prompts. I think sometimes we overlook this method, but there are several benefits to prompts.
The first of these is there are several that work for all genres. Some prompts are genre-specific, but there are also prompts that can be applied to several different genres.
They also can start you off with a new story idea. A writing prompt can give you the basic premise of a new story. For Kara Swanson, her writing prompt that she came up with for The Girl Who Could See was “Everyone has an imaginary friend, mine just never left.”
Writing prompts can also help you grow your writing craft. They can encourage writing by the seat of your pants, and sudden creativity. If you use non-fiction writing prompts just to grow your craft, you learn grammar, critical thinking, etc.
The question becomes, where to find fiction writing prompts?
Treasure Troves of Ideas
There are several places to find fiction writing prompts. One I love is the Most Dangerous Writing App. Not only does this help you get words on the page, but it also has writing prompts that are really cool. There are also books. I really like this one that is on Amazon. It has a few thought-provoking prompts as well.
On the YWWC, we also have a writing prompt space where you can get writing prompts directly from other writers.
I would also encourage you to look online. There are several websites and places that can have good writing prompt ideas. Here is an article with several prompts in 16+ genres.
Final Thoughts and Solutions
There are three final ways to be inspired that I wanted to discuss quickly.
The first of these is to pray. If we are called to write, God will give us something to write, especially if we ask. He will put a message to share in our hearts, and that message is one that we will have to share.
The next is to go outside. Enjoy God’s creation. God is the Master Creator, and He created us to create. What better place to find inspiration than that of the Master’s creation? This also gives us an opportunity to worship God for what He’s given us.
And the last is to rest. Take care of your body, come back to your book later. It’s so much harder to write when you’re exhausted, and it’s very easy to get exhausted in today’s culture. So rest, take a break and come back to your writing with fresh eyes.
Your Next Steps
Writing isn’t easy, especially when you don’t have the inspiration to do so. But with the methods and solutions in this article, you can gain many ideas to write.
We’ve talked about all these different ways to be inspired as a young fiction or nonfiction writer, but now that you’ve come to the end, you just have to think, “I’m not motivated.” You want to write and now that you’ve got the solution to fix your lack of inspiration, you’re ready to. But you just don’t feel motivated.
Let me encourage you, there is a solution.
Below is a download for eight tips to stay motivated. Now that you have the keys to being motivated and new inspiration, you can write your story freely without worrying about running out of ideas or lacking motivation.