I miss cigarettes for that - moments of calm creative inspiration.
I am finding just getting on with it helpful. I am an arch-procrastinator. I do need to commit to a novel though. At the moment I am mainly doing short stories and poetry.
I thought of the plot for a recent short story whilst driving home by myself. An hour in the car at night seemed to work really well for me. But I need to walk because it would be good for my waistline as well as my writing!
I'd love to do morning pages but I'm not disciplined enough (and had to finish an OU essay this morning)
I often get snippets of ideas from things around me. Like talking with a friend while having a coffee on Tues I joked about us taking our crafting hobby to competitive heights. Then I had an idea about a friendship that turns nasty over something like this. I plan to write a short piece today, just a rough draft and see where it goes.
Once I have an idea I find a good walk gives me the space to mull ideas over.
For me, a paragraph just dropped into my head one evening when, funnily enough, I was walking to the shop to buy some milk! I don't know where it came from, but I knew it would be the last paragraph of my first chapter. Then I was stuck for over a month. I knew my two main characters, had them fleshed out as people, but I didn't know what I was going to do with them. I just kept hitting a blank.
Wool is what saved me.
We've moved house an awful lot over the last few years, and one evening I was down in the cellar looking for a particular ball of wool that I was fairly sure had ended up down there, not in my knicker drawer, the toy boxes, a kitchen drawer, or any other number of wrong and inappropriate places. Reaching for a box, three bits of folded over paper fell out of an old diary. It was a letter from an ex, soon after we split up many years ago. I don't cry very much, but reading his letter on a Tuesday evening in my cellar made me burst into tears. And I started thinking about first loves, and how they become formative experiences. And then I thought a bit more about how hellish growing up can be. Then I thought some more about how our parents fuck us up.
Then I thought about it some more. And when I finally got bored of being too scared to write, I wrote myself a stern letter. Telling me that no one else in the world had to know I was writing, that I could just do it and then bury it in the garden. So I got on with it. And sometimes it flowed, and sometimes it didn't. But at the time I said to myself 'Sod it. Just keep writing, even if you know it's a badly constructed sentence. Keep the story moving, and edit it later.'
But the thing that worked was, just like Tunip, WALKING. Specifically, walking on my own to somewhere. I seemed to have my best ideas about plotlines just as I reached the corner before crossing the road to the DCs school, so made sure I had my diary and pen handy to scribble down ideas. Dialogue ideas/'moving the action forward without major plotting' ideas always seemed to happen when I went to the shop to buy milk/bread/wine in the evening (I deliberately buy smaller bottles of milk now).
Of course my book and the sequel I'm working on now might be terrible. But those walks, those eureka moments are so satisfying that even if I never get published, I'll keep on writing.
Interesting question. I would love to do morning pages but no matter how early I wake up, a small child will hear me sit up in bed and will start shouting 5 minutes later. I don't do exercises either but if I was short of ideas I would; I did one once when I had a block and it was very useful.
Most of mine probably do appear when I'm walking somewhere, either on a schoolrun or a country walk with the family. I am always madly keen to read about the history of things I do or places I go, or just random stuff, like, you know, you see a sheep and wonder about the history of sheep and how it was all different 500 years ago and then I go off and read loads of books about it. Or I eavesdrop on the bus and write down what people say and things grow out of it. It think it's to do with being interested in the stuff around you. Or sometimes you are pondering people you know who are particularly weird or interesting and you think 'I wonder what would happen if a person like that was in such and such a situation, that would be interesting....' Or you go to a place and think it would be good for a certain type of scene, eg you find a cave behind a waterfall and think it would be good for hiding in if you were being hunted with dogs. For example!
I keep a very rambly diary where the first ideas get written down, and a notebook so that once it is clear something is worthy of further exploration, the idea can have a page and odd things can get noted on it. Then sooner or later it gets to the point where I have to sit down at the computer and madly type ideas about what might happen, or snatches of dialogue or thoughts about characters.
sorry, bit rambly. Looking forward to hearing what everyone else says.