On-tap Inspiration Online

By Ali Hale

Do you ever find that you have an hour or two free to write, but you just can’t get inspired? Whether you want a compelling idea for your next short story, a topic for your blog or a starting prompt for a poem, your brain just seems to be blank. If only there were some way to get inspiration on-tap…

Thankfully there is! It’s called the Internet, and it’s jam-packed with ways to find your next great idea…

Twistori

Twistori finds Twitter feeds which contain certain words: love, hate, think, believe, feel and wish.

To use it, just click on one of the words on the left-hand side, then watch text stream up your screen. If you click rapidly on several words, you can come up with some brilliant juxtapositions – often, putting together two very different thoughts can result in a great piece of writing.

These are just some of the lines I saw. Any of these spark off some (maybe slightly crazy) ideas?

  • I think I’m inheriting a cat tomorrow
  • I feel like I’m riding my exercise bike to nowhere. Why can’t I get frequent rider miles and fly to Italy with them?
  • I can tell its already going to be a crazy super long week. I wish I could duplicate myself!!
  • I hate birthdays and i hate signing cards and celebrating them at work.

Imagination prompt generator

The Imagination prompt generator gives you a random prompt every time you click. Good for non-fiction writers, especially personal essayists.

Just click on the ‘Next prompt’ button. If you find writing on one prompt two easy, pick two to combine in the same piece. Here’s a few it came up with for me, and my thoughts on how they could be used.

“List five books that you’ve read this year.” – If you’re a blogger, pick books on your topic and write a review of them for your blog.

“Without my life partner, I’d…” – This would be a personal, reflective piece, perhaps something for your journal. It could even be suitable to send to a magazine.

“Can you live without electricity for a month?” – Questions like this one could lead to an article on how dependant we are on electricity, or even a piece of fiction about a TV-and-computer-addicted teenager being taken on a very “low-tech” family holiday…

Random Word Generator combined with Flickr

Open these two sites in different tabs or browser windows. The Random Word Generator will give you a word – and Flickr will find you an image.

Get your word by hitting ‘New Word’ (it’s easiest to use nouns, but other types of word can yield interesting results.) Then type that word into the search box on Flickr. Pick one of the images that comes up – to get the best of the lot, sort by ‘Most interesting’.

Don’t spend too long choosing your image, just pick one, click on the thumbnail in the search results to see the big version, and gaze at it for a while. This could yield ideas for a poem, story, article, even a letter or journal entry.

We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine asks the question “What are you feeling?” and finds answers from thousands of blogs. It is a rich source of emotions and ideas, and lots of fun to play with.

Give it a minute to load, then click on one of the floating coloured blobs. (You can also change mode to ‘Murmurs’ to see a list of streaming text – try out the different options in the bottom left corner.) You’ll get thoughts like these:

“i sometimes tend to dwell on not having the life i wish i had and then i hear stories like these and it makes me very grateful for everything i have” – This could be a great starting point for a blog post on gratitude, or perhaps for a story where a character undergoes a complete shift in their state of mind when they learn about someone else’s troubles.

‘i feel like for the first time my outlook on life has vastly improved’ – This raises a lot of questions: why has the speaker’s outlook improved? How were things different before? This could make a good start – or even a whole theme – for a story.

‘i don’t feel too guilty about it because i don’t cook breakfast for people who don’t get out of bed before nine thirty’ – You could take this in several directions; perhaps a short story about a mother exasperated with her layabout teenagers, an article about sleeping habits and waking-up times, or a blog post on how to become an early riser (though that topic’s been fairly well covered.)

What are your favourite sites for online inspiration?

Those are just a few sites that I love, and I’m sure there’s dozens of great ones I’ve not even discovered yet. Share your favourites in the comments below (and if you’re willing, let us know what they’ve inspired you to write!) Or if you try out one of the above sites, tell us what you come up with…

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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5 Responses to “On-tap Inspiration Online”

  • Jani

    Hehe, nice little tools, but I rather consider them some kind of ‘last resort” 🙂
    better just sit back and write when it comes…

  • pavs

    Excellent collection of resources. Very unique in every way. English is my third language and I often find it hard to come up with things to write about. One of the things I do is I look at random pictures which has nothing to do with the niches I am writing about and I try to find a connecting with that random picture with my niches and have in many occasions come up with amazingly good ideas.

    I write about tech so this is even more bazaar when I look at pictures of flowers and come up with an idea to write about.

    Also, I rarely watch tv, but when I do, it often helps me with ideas.

  • Craig S. Kiessling

    Wow – cool. Many thanks for sharing these – opened all in new tabs, adding to bookmarks, and find a way to integrate them into workflow. 🙂

  • C.J. Harley

    Great post.

    I liked Twistori and the Imagination Prompt Generator the best. I found We Feel Fine hard to work with and the Random Word Generator of little use to me.

    Being at home for most of my day it’s hard to find things to write about and things to inspire me.

    Thanks for finding those inspiring sites.

  • Violet

    Thank you so much! I LOVE “We Feel Fine”. BTW- I just reccently discovered this site a few months ago, but it has helped greatly.

    I LOVE writing, and I am trying to write a novel, but being a teen, I still try and get help…that, and I can’t figure out publishing, so this has been great. Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

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