Today, we're going to be looking at inspiration.
Inspiration is something that is always helpful to have - when you are inspired for a particular idea, character or scene, words seem to come a lot more easily, and you can get a story flowing, developing concepts and getting the idea down. Rather than being stuck for hours on the same paragraph, you can find pages flow from your fingers - or else that you have a mental vision at least of how you want it to go. Inspiration is great.
Having said that, I'm going to stress something I've said before: You can't wait for inspiration. You just can't. Inspiration is not always going to be there, and if you tell yourself that you can only write something when you are inspired to do so, you're never going to get it done. It's important to get words down, even if it doesn't seem to be going anywhere, because at least then you have something to improve.
These tips are to be done alongside your normal writing, not instead of it.
If you're anything like me, inspiration strikes at the absolutely worst times imaginable. Just before bed last night I worked out the plot of a six part story I promised a friend, and when I'm running I often get ideas. Other times that inspiration sneaks up on you are when you are in the shower, on the toilet, driving, or otherwise as far away as possible from your computer/writing materials. This absolutely sucks.
So carry something with you, so you can jot down those ideas. Make notes - either carry a notebook around, or download an app on your phone or something. Personally I find the ColorNote app: http://www.colornote.com/ really helpful, but if you don't have a phone that it will work on, just type ideas into a blank text, or scrawl them down on paper. If you find showers are the place you get your best ideas, you forget them by the time you've stepped out and you don't mind looking like a bit of an idiot, leave a non-washable pen in reach. If you have something you just /have/ to write down then and there, write it on your arm or something.
If you look, there is inspiration all around you - just jot down things you find inspiring or interesting. There might be a mannerism of someone you know, or a piece of dialogue you hear that sparks ideas, and noting them down for later can be great. One thing though - do be careful you aren't just caricaturing your friends, because that way lies arguments and distress. You can take inspiration from people you know, just if you want to stay in contact with that person, it's a good idea not to make an obvious version of them into the villain of your piece (unless they ask for that!).
Plus it's much more original to mix together a variety of people, rather than just stealing someone you know. That way you can combine things, won't cause offence, and can develop ideas - so that rather than thinking about that particular individual you know, you can be thinking about your character and how they would react with the combination of characteristics they possess.
Sometimes, you find yourself stuck on a particular scene, and with ideas for other areas of the story. Don't be afraid to jump ahead and work on them, even if it will mean you need to revise them later. You can always just put down brief notes. If you have inspiration, it often is best to use it - otherwise by the time you get to that scene, your ideas might have vanished.
One final tip I would give would be to read. Books that have been published must have something in them that made them desirable (even if what it is that was desirable about them isn't always clear), and they might help. The more you read, the more you will be aware of the kind of thing that you want to read, and the more you'll know what it is you want to write - come back next week for more on that topic.