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Storm Your Brain! (Inspiration Inspiration)

Brainstorming and gathering story inspiration is one of my favorite parts of starting a new WIP. There are plenty of methods, both virtual and in the real world. Here are a few of our favorites!


Many writers use Pinterest boards to collect inspiration for their books and WIPs. In fact, a while back we collected a ton of YA authors on Pinterest (and surely there are more we've missed). I have pinboards for each of my WIPs, and scanning them helps set the mood before a writing session.

one of my pinterest inspiration boards

Idea boards 

Idea boards are a lot like Pinterest, except tangible: collages of images, cut-outs and other scraps that relate to your WIP or characters. It takes a little longer than virtual pinning, but there's something more meditative about the hands-on process.

a few of nikki katz's character inspiration boards

Index cards 

If you're an outliner, writing down scenes on index cards, Post-Its, or similar is a great way to organize before you dive in. It works just as well for revisions brainstorming.

kate hart's super-organized revisions


Scrivener offers a great collection of virtual tools for writers, including bulletin boards, comprehensive outlining methods, and ways of collecting inspirational media and organizing research. The company also produces Scapple, a tool designed specifically for brainstorming.


Count me among the writers who draw their characters. Idly, on the backs of bills and in notebooks, and in more detail in sketchbooks. Not to be confused with my doodles of unrelated creatures and so forth in the margins of my manuscripts.


Maps can be incredibly helpful, especially if your book includes a made-up location. I've created maps in sketchbooks, and with a tablet on Photoshop. If your setting does actually exists, you can
draw upon or Photoshop an existing map, marking spots where events take place in your book.
my island map included in my book WANDERLOVE

a map from kaitlin ward's WIP


Whether they're book-, scene-, or character--specific, playlists are another great mood-maker for writing. Check out YA Highway's Mixtape feature for a few themed writing playlists.

song lyrics also make great titles/unexpected poetry -- kate hart
Gathering inspiration and brainstorming is fun. But in the end, it's all about sitting down and writing. Like I'm about to do right now… Well, just as soon as I pin a few more things.

How do you inspire?

Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. All of these are great... and I do pretty much all of the above! Great post, Kirsten!

  2. I love this advice! I haven't tried mapping out any locations but I'm positive it would help. Usually, I never write down nearly half of my planning for my stories, and the problem with that is I forget half of the actual plot by the time I get to it... But I'll definitely be trying out some map drawing to get my thoughts straight.
    Awesome post! :)

  3. I definitely use maps and playlists. Occasionally I'll save a pic or two that I find really inspirational or a good match for an aspect of character or setting.


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Item Reviewed: Storm Your Brain! (Inspiration Inspiration) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard