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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > February 2016 > Inspiration: 101 ways to inspire ideas

Inspiration: 101 ways to inspire ideas

Whether you’re looking for a warm-up exercise, short story prompts, article suggestions or the inspiration for a novel, Patsy Collins has some suggestions to get you started

1 You don’t need to look further than your own life for inspiration for anything from a filler about one moment, to an autobiography describing your whole history. You can keep it factual, gloss over the truth or embellish with fictional details, depending on your market.

2 Other people’s lives are interesting too. Biographic writing can focus on one decisive event, or an entire life. The subject needn’t be famous. Family members or local characters might have fascinating stories to tell. Perhaps you’ll create a biography or autobiography as a record for your grandchildren.

3 Newspaper headlines can be great story prompts, especially if you avoid reading the rest of the article.

4 Or write your own news report. Local papers often welcome, though seldom pay, someone willing to provide a write-up of sports matches, fêtes and events.

5 Talk to a homeless person. How did they end up in that situation? It might be worth buying them a cup of tea and sandwich to find out. You could write up the answer, or something inspired by it, a plea to help, or a piece to help others avoid such a situation.

6 Make a note of your suspicions if you witness unusual behaviour. Record what happened and your thoughts and reactions, before the innocent explanation spoils a promising plot-line.

7 Reading the lonely heart ads reveals interesting characters. Try putting them together in likely, or unlikely, combinations.

8 Studying problem pages could also be inspiring. How did they get into that mess? Will the person follow the advice? Will it help? Or maybe you could write a self-help piece for others with similar issues.

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BUMPER ISSUE: Plan your writing year with our definitive guide to festivals, workshops, courses and events for writers in 2016 101 ways to inspire new ideas How to: Market your ebook Write the perfect submission letter Sell your article ideas 'Leave it out!": Create cliché-free crime dialogue Get active! Make the most of your writing retreat AND Get Booked at your local library Star interview with crime writer Louise Welsh, on tackling dark topics with a light touch

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