Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Finding Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration? It can sometimes be as elusive as a flickering flame, but a writer must have inspiration in order to produce a solid story. Some writers find the seed of a great story in a magazine, the smile of a stranger, the eccentricities of an elderly man, or even the bark of a dog!

I'm often asked where I got the inspiration for my heroine LaTisha Barnhart. It began with the comment of an agent who really liked my feisty, mature heroine in a historical I was proposing. My subconscious tucked away the agent's praise. Then, when I found that Barbour was launching a new line of cozy mysteries, I decided to try my hand at a genre I widely read but had never tried writing. The challenge was to come up with an interesting and fun (my requirement!) sleuth, at which point I fell back on the agent's observation and decided to put a feisty, mature woman in the starring role. LaTisha Barnhart was born.

See how that one bit of encouragement inspired?

Where do you find inspiration? Do you find it by reading books within the genre in which you hope to be published? Or maybe you're the opposite and find inspiration by reading outside your chosen genre. Maybe you find it in those around you or events that touch your heart. Perhaps you're a people watcher who loves nothing more than to play out, in a character, an eccentricity portrayed by a man you met at the mall. Whatever the case, share your inspired moments with us.


  1. My inspiration comes from comments, either voiced or written. Something catches my attention and an image flashes through my mind. A comment about remarriage resulted in an image of a woman walking away from a church. A photo of water crashing on the shore gave birth to a picture of a distraught woman falling to her knees. I ask myself what brought these people to that point and what would happen afterwards. Then I do my best to destroy them and see if they can weather the storm.

  2. A headline on the cover of the most recent Reader's Digest caught my attention: INSPIRE YOURSELF

    I can't think how that is possible. I believe that inspiration has to come from somewhere. You don't just make it up. People say, "I was inspired by..." I think the key is to look outside yourself. Unless I'm missing something. Let me know!

  3. Inspiration comes from many places for me. Mostly from songs and seeing beautiful things of nature (like sunsets, the red rocks of Sedona, AZ, etc.) Movies, sometimes as well.

    I love people watching too, I always think, "Oh, how can I put a supernatural/speculative twist on that?"

    Great post, thanks.

  4. Cindy, I think you're absolutely on target! Inspiration can come from all over. The wind, the rain, the neighbor's cat (who has found a new home on our deck!). It fascinates me how the most minute thing can suddenly burgeon into an idea for a character, a plot, or even a title.

    Titles often inspire me to wonder what is inside the book,that's one of the reasons I coming up with a great title is so worth the extra brain power.

  5. I'm not sure where my inspiration comes from. Different places, for sure.

    The only character I know for sure where some of my inspiration comes from is a man who is (VERY LOOSELY) based on my associate pastor. Certain personality quirks that I think are fun about him translated well when I was building this character.

    Other than that, my MC's tend to have a lot of me in them- spunk, determination, wit- things I either have or aspire to have.

  6. Part of the fun of being a people watcher is looking out for those certain someone's who encompass the level of strangeness we need for our WIPs. Er, well, not that all our characters have to be strange, but I think quirks often bring a character to life. Make them real and easy to identify with. Hey, we all have quirks!

  7. Anyone else find this post hard to read? Marcia

  8. You mean the font, Marci? It appears different according to the browser you are running. Sorry about that.

  9. I seem to find my inspiration in a number of quirky ways. Reading Scripture, of course. Otherwise, I just write down (on paper or mentally) everything around me that could come to life and tell a story. I also like going through the alphabet and writing down every word I can think of that starts with that letter. Looking at photographs helps sometimes, too!
    I wrote a piece online recently that talked about my coffee addiction. That came out of my jaunts into a local convenience store in the early morning hours. Mundane events can be a great source of inspiration; as they have a great measure of emotional content.

    I shall stop now:). Thanks for asking!


  10. Thanks for sharing, Lynne. I'd never considered mundane events fodder for inspiration, though I'm sure I've garnered ideas from everyday things. Who'd have thunk it?

  11. You know as cliche as it sounds, the Holy Spirit gives me my inspirations for the novels I've written. I honestly couldn't have come up with idea one without Him giving me the character(s) I need to create a story. I will say the person He used to inspire my second novel The Famous One is Johnny Depp. Seriously. Some of his life experiences and how I perceived his thoughts.

  12. Hi Sandra,
    I find a lot of inspiration in my local newspaper, especially the human interest stories. Also biographies of modern day missionaries have inspired me to write several stories. Sometimes magazines like Family Circle or Readers Digest have interesting stories that spark an idea or a character.

  13. I got inspiration for my novel, that I'm writing right now is surprisingly Hannah Montana! Her show immediately gave me a seed for my book and I immediately began writing.


Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.