Writers can go through fits and lulls when it comes to inspiration, motivation, and the desire to write. Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to get all the words down. Other times, I find myself opening my laptop to close it again, thinking "I can't do this." Where do ideas come from? In rare moments, ideas will hit me like bubbles popping on the side of my brain. In everyday moments, I find inspiration in the world around me. My daily life sparks creativity.
Certain places are awash with a quiet stillness, away from the bustle of the city or the suburbs. Deep in a forest, atop a mountian, paddling a lake, all can be places for reflection. I sit still and pay attention to what's real. From reality all sorts of fantasy can stem. This can be large, sweeping scenes like mountains blanketed in summer greens or small details such as a spider weaving her gossamer threads.
I listen to music while driving in the car or cleaning the house or playing with my daughter. I also listen to music as I write. Songs can pack so much truth and emotion into each note and lyric. Whether the lyrics relate specifically to what I'm writing or not, the universal emotions held in each song help inspire my character's feelings.
A well written novel transports me to worlds I would never see and introduces me to people I would never meet. This inspires me to refine my craft--to evoke new places and characters in the mind of the reader. Even books I don't particularly like can improve my writing. When I come across a style or story I'm not fond of, I make a mental note to avoid those unwanted elements. When I wish a book would end differently, I can create my own alternate stories with infinite possibility.
Direct mental focus on the writing craft--characters, setting, plot, and the like--is writing in the head. This sort of thinking is essential to writing. I spend time thinking when I'm alone in the shower or in the car. This can be the mind-wandering sort of thinking that is not particularly centered on anything. Then, BAM! inspiration hits. I'll play and replay scenes and conversations between characters, essentially writing and rewriting before ever cracking my laptop.