If you are going to write, is is very important that you read. Books are one of my greatest sources of inspiration as a writer. You can get ideas for topics, story lines, characters, settings, or activities in which your characters participate.
Another source of inspiration for your writing is your dreams. I often first meet my new characters for my books in my dreams. If I dream about something that is memorable, I want to write a book about what I saw in my dream. It is essential that you write your dreams in your journal or notebook as soon as you wake up so you don't forget them. If it was a very detailed dream, write down as much detail as you can remember.
The toad in the first children's book that I wrote, The Toad in the Blue Shoes, came from a dream that I had. In the dream, there was a toad riding a toy motorcycle around my room.
If you get stuck, a great way to generate ideas is to free write. Free writing is when you don't have a specific topic to write about, but you just write whatever comes to your mind. Don't worry about what you are writing, as long as you keep writing something. Not everything you free write about is going to be useful, but if you keep going, you should be able to come up with something that you can use in your next writing project. Sometimes I free write several pages at once, and often I come up with more than one idea in a single free writing session.
Another option you have if you don't know what to write about is brainstorming. This is when you make a list of possible ideas or topics. Just write down anything that comes to your mind. Don't take time to evaluate the quality of you ideas yet. Keep going until you have a long list of possibilities. My brainstorming list are usually 2-3 pages. Then look back through your list and circle the topics or ideas that you may seriously consider using sometime in the future. Once you get those circled, choose one of those to use for the project you are going to work on now. It is best to do your brainstorming in your journal, because that way you won't misplace your list of ideas and you can always refer back to it. You may want to refer back to your brainstorming list in the future if you thought of some topics ideas that you might want to use later.
Movies and TV
Many writers also get writing ideas from the movies or TV shows they watch. Like reading books, watching movies and TV shows can also give you ideas for plots, settings, names, and characters. They can introduce you to mythological creatures, cute animals, or people much different from yourself. However, watching too much TV or too many movies can be detrimental to your writing. Get out of it what you can, but don't use this as your primary source of ideas.
Art can be a wonderful inspiration for writing. Historical paintings of people might give you an idea for your next novel, or a new post on Deviant art might inspire your next children's book. I especially like to look at digital artwork online, and often spend a lot of time looking at fantasy art or pictures that have been combined with other pictures. Also, you should go to art museums and galleries, and attend art shows. What you see might give you some great ideas for your writing.
Also, if you are an artist, you might draw or paint something for another project or for practice, and that could give you an idea for what to write about. If you draw or paint a scenery, consider using that as a setting in one of your books. If you are practicing perspective drawing and draw a house, maybe that could be where one of your characters live.
What is Your Greatest Source of Writing Inspiration?
There are blogs dedicated to either tips on improving your writing or displaying the work of others. You can find many useful articles on blogs that can help improve your writing style. Some of my favorite blogs about writing are The Renegade Writer, The World's Greatest Book, and Positive Writer.
In addition, literary blogs can give you many ideas of things you can write about. There are short stories, which might give you ideas, on some literary blogs. Other literary blogs have book reviews that you can read and possibly write a novel with a similar plot. Some good literary blogs you should look at are The New Inquiry and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Your Own Journal
Sometimes you can find inspiration for your writing simply by looking back through your own journal. If you keep a journal and you have been keeping it for a while, there might be something in there that you have forgotten about. By going back and rereading what you have written in the past, about where you have been, ideas you had but have forgotten, how you felt long ago, an activity in which you participated, or something you accomplished, you may get an idea for a book or short story that you are currently writing.
This one's easy. Write about what you have done. If you have gone to the zoo, you can write a children's book about a trip to the zoo. If you work in a restaurant, you can write a novel in which one of the main characters works in a restaurant. If you are a painter, you can write an article giving tips on how to get started painting. If you write about what you have experienced in real life, you will have an easier time completing your project and will be able to better describe and relate to your characters or subject matter because you will better understand that situation or topic.
Putting Two Things Together.
This one works best for children's books, humor writing, and poetry, but it could be applied to almost any type of fiction.
Look around you and make a list of some of the objects you see. Then go outside, to the store, or to a museum, and do the same thing again. Then look through your list and choose at least two things that could be used together in a story, but are not normally thought of as going together. You might end up with a zebra riding a bicycle, someone digging in the sandbox with a spoon, or a worm building a house inside of a pear.
Hundreds of writer's prompts can be found online. A writer's prompt is a sentence or a few sentences that help people start writing. Read several of them and choose one. You can change it a little if you want. Then keep going and finish the story. One of the list of writer's prompts that I have found useful is the link on Writer's Digest. However, if you need something more creative and adventurous, you could try looking through this list on Pinterest. You can also buy books full of writer's prompts.
Writing Prompt Websites
If you are writing fiction, simply watching people can be a great source of inspiration. You see people almost every day. They might be taking to each other, walking around outside, mowing the lawn, riding a bicycle, shopping at the mall, or taking your order at a restaurant. Try to imagine why they are there, doing what they are doing, or where they are going. If they are talking about their vacation, what else do you think they did on vacation? If they are walking, where might they be going? If they are working at a restaurant, ask yourself what their life might be like working there.