Inspiration comes from many sources, but more importantly, a creative person carries that ability with them wherever they go. With creativity comes breaking rules and coloring outside the lines. This means you should let go of all that you know on how to see the world, and see it through the filtered lens of a creative mind. There you can find inspiration in so many different ways;
Personal Stories– Not just your stories but from those around you. A fellow writer in my group found inspiration for a story meeting one of the lifeguards, using him as a character in her book. Other authors found the process of writing their personal stories as therapy, such as forming memoirs or sharing a daunting experience with sickness or death. Life provokes conflict everywhere you go, which makes good story telling.
Friends and Family– The people in our lives not only have their own stories, you can often find they make interesting characters as well. You can borrow habits, mannerisms, and fears from people around you. Coworkers and even enemies also provide realistic characterstics.
Dreams – You can find no better place than dreams to find creativity and stories, where the brain works out the noise inside your soul. Tod Sterling of the Twilight Zone fame found dreams provided him a wellspring of stories.
Music– I found listening to music often sparks a scene in my mind, playing out like its a soundtrack. I compile playlists for mood or even specific to a story I’m writing.
Video Games– It might sound silly, but the medium of video games offer their own unique story telling that could potentially spark a story in you. Sometimes when I play, I ask myself “What if I was this character?” or “What if I lived in a similar world, or had to deal with the same situation?” An example could be playing Age of Empires, and considering a day in the life of one of the many people you create to build your civilization.
Photos often spark a story idea for me by offering so much in the way of questions. See the picture below and ask yourself questions. What is he looking at? Who is he? What’s his story?
This is why its so important to keep a notebook or voice recorder handy just in case inspiration finds you. Jot down notes, using brainmapping, and let the ideas flow.
I think most important to consider is that with creativity, there are no rules, or rather, there should be no rules to use it.