Deborah L. Fruchey
In the right frame of mind, inspiration is all around you. I notice that particularly after a good poetry reading, I will be inspired by every little thing, because I have just heard so many ways that writers are reacting to their ordinary lives.I also sometimes get ideas from particular dreams at night. I dream very vividly and often keep records. I belong to a dream group which meets once a month to help each other interpret what they are seeing.
But I also collect prompts to use for times when I need help. Poets and Writers Magazine has a great free email that goes out once a week, offering a prompt each for poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as book suggestions. They have been offering this for at least two years now, and I have yet to use all the riches they have available. Rick Lupert offers a 30 day set of prompts at Poetry Superhighway every April to celebrate National Poetry Month, and there is no reason you can't use those to inspire any kind of writing you like. Nobody says it has to be poetry. There are also local sources for prompts online - again, they are meant for poetry but I can use them other ways. At Nicenet,org, there are often prompt-a-day classes for free, and I know a woman who offers 30 days of prompts every New Year and publishes people's favorites in a chapbook, if they care to send them in to her (of course it is optional).
I keep records of every one of these in a special "Prompts" file, which over the years has gotten very thick. I have literally hundreds or maybe thousands of options if I get stuck.
Of course, none of this helps if I am writing a book and get hemmed in by my own plot.