101 Sources of Writing Inspiration (And Win a Free Book!)

We all need a pick-me-up now and then, especially when pursuing our creative passion. The creative process is often a solitary one, in particular creative writing. Sometimes when I need a touch of inspiration I’ll visit a blog by a writer who inspires me. I now have the ability to visit with 101 different writers to hear their inspirational stories.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Inspiration for Writers Dust JacketIf you’re not familiar with the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, then you are truly living a solitary life. One of the latest works in that series is Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers, published last month. It varies a bit from some of the other collections of essays/observations from creative writers in that it is not full of household names. While each writer has been published, their backgrounds vary as much across the professionals spectrum as writing blogs themselves do.

It reminded me of the forty-some artists I interviewed on my cross-country U.S. road trip. Some were highly successful, some were more aspirational, but all were committed to an art-committed life. All of the writers in this book are committed to the passion that is writing.

One of the writers featured is a classmate of mine at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Sophfronia Scott. In “A Change of Direction,” Sophfronia tells of her journey from published novelist to MFA student, a path that runs opposite from many people’s understanding. She weaves in artfully her pursuit of creative growth with the revelation of the loss of a close family member.

Sophfronia’s essay is under the section “Facing My Fears.” That and other categories remind me of topics we’ve explored here at The Artist’s Road, such as making time to write, wrestling with writer’s block, dealing with rejection, and finding inspiration.

And now I’d like to hold a contest for Artist’s Road readers. Please share, in 100 words or less, a creative “lesson” that is important to you. It could be a piece of wisdom you now hold dear, or a challenge you are still wrestling with. Please connect it to yourself in some way, like the writers in the book do. I’ll be selecting the half-dozen most inspiring posts and will randomly select one of them to win a free hard copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. The contest will run through 5 p.m. EDT Thursday. Let’s hear your stories!

UPDATED JUNE 21, 2013: We have a winner! As I note in the comments below, Michelle has won a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. You should take a moment to read all of the comments, however; they are touching, inspirational, and educational. Yes, we have created some tasty condensed soup! The contest may be over, but I’d love to hear your story as well.

15 thoughts on “101 Sources of Writing Inspiration (And Win a Free Book!)

  1. Entry for contest:
    At age 51, overwhelmed by grief over my husband’s death, I ran away from home to the beach. The main thing I do now is to write. I can write of the cold dark hours. I can even write and photograph the joyful minutes that I allow myself to see and feel the miracles of nature; the raging waves reaching for the shore, the dancing birds on the sand who rejoice in flight, the moss-covered shack I capture being swallowed by vegetation. I’m writing essays, blogs, children’s books, poetry and a memoir. I’m alive and I’m hopeful.


  2. I received two rejections in May. I spent years on this book of paintings and stories. I was devastated. On the afternoon of May 31st, I retreated into self-pity on my Oklahoma couch. But the Gods do not tolerate self-pity here. Within hours, a monster tornado was barreling down the I-40, sending my neighbours and myself racing into our storm shelter. A few miles out, it disappeared. Many lost everything, some even their lives. I sat at my desk a few days later, in my fully intact house. I had no excuses. I started writing. (The full story is on my blog)


  3. My contest entry:
    I was 40 and my husband 50 in 2002.What started out as a normal year ended up being the beginning of a very long season(years to be exact)of hard times and health problems for he and I.We’re still not through this phase of our lives yet.He ended up on disability and I had to stay home with him after heart surgery and a mild stroke.The thing that has kept me sane besides our faith in God has been writing in my journal.Writing poems,prayers and questions.Venting as often as I want or need to.I write as often as I can or need to.It has been a release.A much needed release.And it’s always been there since my 3rd grade teacher saw that I had a creative writing style.I didn’t really pursue this creative activity till middle age but I am so glad I did as it has kept me connected to God and to myself and how I am feeling on any given day.I am forever grateful for this gift.In a very real way it has kept me hopeful.


  4. I’ve been making my living as a creative since 1984, first as a spoken word poet and later as writing teacher, creativity facilitator, and performance coach. I’ve clocked over a million miles across America, every state save Alaska, plus lands beyond. Here’s what I’ve learned. Creativity is free, abundant as air, and endless as the universe. Courage rises from craft. Magic happens when ignore the naysayers, both internal and external, put your butt in the chair and do the work.


  5. Creativity is a wondrous Universal force that can never be diminished or extinguished. It comes from a place of limitless imagination and never-ending exploration. Wherever your path leads you, never forget that you have both the power and the choice to create magic at every fork in the road. As children, we rely on our creativity to sustain us. As adults, we are taught to stifle it. Never give in to the latter. Always open the door to its magic, allow it to flow freely, and a beautiful garden will grow.


  6. Yvette Carol

    Hiya, Patrick, as you may or may not remember, I’ve elected not to follow the comments on your posts. So if I was to *ahem* win, could you please drop me a line? At any rate, I’ve had rather a breakthrough in my writing lately which has fairly blown my mind. You, more than anyone probably, would know how very much the ‘rules’ of modern writing have changed over the years. Things Tolkien and Carroll could get away with back in the day, simply will not pass muster these days. In fact, I’ve heard it said, if you did try to write a book in that old style, no one would ever read it. Readers of this era don’t have the same stamina, the same willingness to read long descriptive passages, etc.
    In my adherence to the modern rules of writing fiction, I’ve pared and sheared my verbiage; I’ve chopped, and refined, and restrained, and limited in every possible way my natural tendency for lots of words. My writing tutor said to me once, your sentences are kaleidescopic! In my earnest attempts to win her favour I learned how to shorten and tighten. My American writing partner was of this ilk as well. So she further helped to sharpen my sword.
    Then, I went ahead this year and found a new writing partner. Only this time, he’s English, and he’s a musician. He edits my work in terms of ‘flow’ and ‘rhythm’ and ‘the beat’ of the words. He horrified me at first, by saying, ‘your sentences go clunk’, and ‘they’re the oral equivalent of riding over cobblestones’.
    I thought, I don’t know what he means.
    But then, he suggested I read every single sentence aloud.
    I did, and I discovered something significant. I realized, that in all my good-girl following of the rules, I’d lost the soul in my work. I’d pared, and primped to the point of squeezing all the juice, all the life out of my story. I had done what I was told. And all I had left was chunks of clunk. This ties in nicely with the theme in my life – as I age – of listening to my own spirit. Allowing for my own knowingness of what’s right to imbue my work, rather than what everyone else tells me is so.
    Going back, I gave myself full permission to ‘just write’, to let it flow. I’m rewriting the whole book! I feel free and full of life again. 🙂


  7. After nearly twenty years of technical writing for government projects, I wondered if I had any iota of creativity to bring to my own writing. Once I left that career it took only a short time to realize that creativity dwells within, even when we fail to nurture it. And it loves our attention. So years later, with careful attention and quiet reflection, we work together, Creativity and I. There’s no place we can’t go together, nothing we can’t write, draw, sing or play, as long as I remember to invite Creativity along.


  8. Paige

    I have 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 old people. We all live together in a 50 yr. old house. My dad is not my dad anymore. He is not my ‘daddy’ that I loved growing up. My mom, who was a bitch to me 90% of my life, is mellowing. Time and Alzhimers has taken them.
    I write children’s stories, or I try to now. When I get afew minutes to write, someone wants something. Right now, my puppy is jealous of my I-pad.
    I turned 60 this year. I thought I’d be further along in my writing by now. I’ve entered contests, sent to publishers. I get disappointed very quick . I know writing is sometimes hard. I love to write. I can’t stop doing it, tho. It’s in my blood, I think.


  9. Lesson Learned: Living my Life

    What resonates deeply for me now is including myself in my own life. My journaling practice helped me do this. My writing had become more a topic of what I planned to do, rather than what I was creating with passion and joy. While journaling over my morning coffee it struck me that I was more concerned about communication from my friends about what they were doing, than I was with making my own day. Today I interviewed for my doctoral program, wrote a blog post and the introduction to my journaling book. Lesson learned.


  10. I’d forgotten how luxurious it is to wrap oneself in the well-crafted words of a gifted storyteller. I recently went through a period of high stress and overwork, forgetting to take care of myself. Not only was my physical energy sapped, my creativity was also dwindling. I’m one who loves ideas and creating, so not being able to connect to that side of myself was making me miserable. Then I found an audio version of To Kill a Mockingbird. The story, the language, the imagery – everything about it was pure joy to my soul. It ignited my thirst for words and stories again. Even more, listening to the story has inspired me to write again. I’m 40 years old and this is the first fiction audio book I’ve ever listened to (I love the smell and feel of physical books). What a pleasant surprised to learn again to be delighted and inspired by being read to. I’ve been writing 2 hours a day for the last week.


  11. Greenmoviecat

    I am a collector of books on inspiration and advice for writers. From “Artist Way” to “Writing Down to the Bones” to “The Elements of Style” to you name it, if it was written to inspire a writer I have probably owned it at one time or another. The two pieces of advice I take most to heart – and yet that also live in blissful tension together – are (1) turn off the inner critic when you write and (2) when you are editing that thing you absolutely most feel *has* to stay in is very likely the thing you most need to cut. The best advice I got on turning off the inner critic came from “Writing on the Right Side of the Brain” talks about personifying your inner critic and setting them aside while you take time to play with words on the paper. Allowing yourself to remember enjoy the moment knowing it can all be edited later. The other speaks to that moment when some turn of phrase, some paragraph, some singular element of writing feels like it is more important than the entire piece. Often, it is precisely this that makes it an intrusion in like a shot of magma solidifying into volcanic rock inside an organically produced sedimentary bed. Pretty – but a distraction. To be set aside for another day – not forgotten – but left to inspire another day’s play on paper..


  12. Greenmoviecat

    I collect books on advice for writers. Artist Way – Writing Down to the Bones – The Elements of Style — if it was written to inspire a writer I have probably owned it at one time or another. The best advice I have gotten is to turn off the inner critic and write. In Writing on Both Sides of the Brain Henriette Klauser talks about personifying your inner critic and setting them aside while you take time to play with words on the paper and enjoy playing on paper in the moment knowing it can all be edited later.


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