Exercise #1: Sparking Inspiration

The very act of writing can be an astonishing discovery. Sometimes, I won’t know how I feel about a subject before I actually begin to write and my imagination starts to bubble. Inspiration transforms this process into magic. The trick is to summon forth the inspiration at will.

Objective: This exercise is designed to help a writer summon forth inspiration by drawing upon their own knowledge, memories, and hidden opinions about a subject.


  1. Select a subject.   It can be vague or specific. If you are writing for a specific anthology,  read through the guidelines.
  2. Turn off all  distractions. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Write down everything you  think and feel about the subject. Write down whatever comes to your mind.
  3. Look at what you’ve  written and you’ll find that a theme starts to shape.


Here is the result of me running through the above exercise.  The subject was Zombies.

  • Decaying flesh
  • Dead rising from the grave
  • No pain
  • Hunger for flesh /  brains
  • Undead hunting the   living
  • Cigarette girls,  objectification of living people to ease the guilt of slavery.
  • Why would people  want to dress up as zombies?
  • Pretty girls looking   ugly sexy. Freedom from bills, jobs, pretending who you are
  • Wild, free, yelling
  • Zombie online?
  • Safe rebellion
  • Dead is slavery
  • Dead are safe, nothing else can happen to you.
  • Wants to have sex  with his hot girl
  • Doesn’t get zombie  walks.
  • Fantasy, writer.
  • Alienation doesn’t connect with people. Feels like an outsider.
  • Mob mentality.
  • Freedom
  • Guilt free
  • Wants to embrace the freedom


Notice that initially the thoughts are pretty stereotypical. That’s OK. You have to express a thought to move to the next one. I started to think of the zombie stories that I love such as Bitter Grounds by Neil Gaiman. Again, you shouldn’t feel bad for thinking about what might influence you. If you note it, it can help you move to the next thing.

And then slowly, the magic happened. I started to come up new ideas; bits and pieces of potential stories. I’ve written three short stories about zombies that were directly inspired by the above example.

Did you enjoy this exercise?  Trying another one on the Creative Writing Exercises page.

2 thoughts on “Exercise #1: Sparking Inspiration

  1. Pingback: Exercise #5: Threading the Narrative | The Universes of Jason Andrew

  2. Pingback: Exercise #6: The Mashup | The Universes of Jason Andrew

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