How To Write More By Finding Inspiration in Everyday Items

Updated January 26, 2022 by Iulian Ionescu | Read Time min.
brainstorming creativity

As a writer, I have many ideas. They come to me in different shapes and forms and strike me at the weirdest times. I try to keep a notepad by my side, but it’s not always possible. There are other times when ideas don’t seem to come anymore freely. It’s like hitting a sandbox while running on a highway. It slows me down. It bothers me. I usually work on multiple projects at any given time, and I often switch between them, but every week I make a point to have a brainstorming session and get some fresh ideas for my idea binder.

How Ideas Start

Recently, I attended a free workshop organized by the Gotham Writers. They partnered with Bryant Park in New York City, and during the summer, they organize seminars and readings outdoors. I recommend these meetings to any writer living in New York. You get to meet many interesting people and learn a lot of good things.

Anyway, at this workshop, the presenter gave us a system for coming up with ideas. He attributed this method to Ray Bradbury, but I couldn’t find proof for that. It could be. Either way, I took that idea, and I made it mine by changing it slightly. So, here I am to share with you: How to get endless ideas?

First of all, go to a less familiar place. That means get out of your usual environment. If you work in your home office or your business, go someplace else. If you are inside, go outside; if you are out, go inside. Even better- try to use the opportunity of being in an entirely unfamiliar place, like visiting something new or a site that often changes, like a flea market. The goal here is to get away from everything that is too usual in your day-to-day life.


Find a Root Item

Once in this place, look around. Do a 360 and allow your eyes to feast on the sights. What do you see? You don’t have to look for things out of the ordinary, but if you happen to see one, take note of it. Start writing down the things that catch your eye. Stop at 10. You now have a list of 10 items. Here’s an example:

Bus, Pole, Bench, Tree, Statue, Calculator, Flag, Bush, Pebble, Bird


Making it specific

In the course of doing this, your eyes might fall on the same thing in different sessions. To make it more diverse, we will take each item and make it specific. That is where you will use your senses. Listen. Look. Smell. Touch what is near you (make sure it’s not a person, though!). Feel with your body. Is there a vibration in the air? Is there a sublime calm? Use all your senses and come up with qualifiers like this:

Blue, Shivering, Lean, Loud, Rude, Stiff, Enormous, Stinky, Flat, Snug


Connect Them

Now, draw random lines connecting one root item with one modifier. Add a “The” in front of them and watch the results. Don’t over-think it, and try to keep it random. Here’s mine:



  • “The Enormous Bus”
  • “The Blue Pole”
  • “The Flat Bench”
  • “The Lean Tree”
  • “The Shivering Statue”
  • “The Stiff Calculator”
  • “The Stinky Flag”
  • “The Rude Bush”
  • “The Loud Pebble”
  • “The Snug Bird”

Now that you have this list, you might want to pick the top five. Reading these potential titles, which ones begin to give you some idea of a possible story? Here are my selections, from my example:

  • “The Flat Bench”
  • “The Lean Tree”
  • “The Shivering Statue”
  • “The Rude Bush”
  • “The Loud Pebble”

Characters (optional)

If you want to take it further, you can add exciting characters to these ideas. If you happen to be in a place with people, it’s all good. However, if you are home, maybe turn on the news channel and wait to see something. Otherwise, you can perhaps imagine some characters or borrow characters you love from your favorite stories. Write just a couple of lines and give them a name, like this:

Steve Parkse—Tall, thin, messy hair, but a perfect business suit. Nice polished leather suitcase, but worn-down shoes. He smiles, but there’s something dark in his eyes.

Angela Dawson—Sporty and short, with long hair in a high ponytail. Perfectly manicured nails. Too much make-up. She walks with confidence, head held high.

Tim McNealy—A stocky guy, wears suspenders. He walks sluggishly, holding a sub in one hand and a Fitness magazine in the other. He’s dressed in gym clothes.

Now that we got a few characters, let’s throw them in the mix:

  • “Tim And The Flat Bench”
  • “Steve And The Lean Tree”
  • “Angela And The Shivering Statue”
  • “Frodo And The Rude Bush”
  • “Sherlock Holmes And The Loud Pebble”

Did you see what I did there?



All right, now we got some cool ideas. Are they stories yet? Not really, but they do start to point towards a story, don’t they? That was the goal of this exercise — to get you started.

Keep these notes, accumulate them in a binder or your favorite software, and take them out and start writing every time you hit a rough spot. Don’t judge, don’t edit. Your goal is to fire up your imagination. Take any of these one-line titles and write about them. You don’t even have to write the entire story; a scene or paragraph is enough. You’ll thank yourself. That is one of the best methods I know to get out of a temporary or long-lasting writer’s block, besides jumping to an extreme method such as Morning Pages.

Now, before you go, I have…

3 Questions For You

  1. What do you use for inspiration for your writing?
  2. Do you have an idea book where you keep ideas for your stories?
  3. What was the most unusual way you got a story idea?

Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!



productivity, writing tips

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