At the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference last month in Seattle, I asked writers and a graphic artist what they do to get creative. Here’s what they said:

Listen to music. Paranormal mystery writer Mariah Klein is particularly inspired by music such as “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Listen to the words for a dark and disturbing story.

Use a photo as a prompt. This works well for Ken Davis, promotions director at Pink Fish Press.

Look around you. Danielle Harada, Associate Publisher at Pink Fish Press, is inspired to create graphic designs by what’s nearby. For example, a pattern from a lighting fixture. For writing she people watches and invents their back stories.

Watch a movie. Jennie Spohr is especially inspired by Pride and Prejudice (either version) or other movies from an era she’s writing in.

Play. Patty Wonderly writes young adult fantasy. She recommends Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, which suggests playing as a way to free yourself to write.

Use history as a framework. A writer I spoke with said he never had a problem coming up with something to write because history gives him plot.

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