I never use my inspired mood to actually write pieces other than simple drafts. I mainly work on plots, certain scenes I want to add to the story and adding depth to my characters. Surprisingly enough I'm not a better writer when I get inspired. My grammar gets a little sloppy and I tend to get into too much detail. I always need to go back in later and eliminate half of the details I put in.
But now for the hard part: what if inspiration seems to have taken a leave of absence? What if it just doesn't start flowing the way you like it to? There are tricks to get inspiration and for everyone there's another one that works. I mainly use three tricks to get on in my stories.
The first trick is research and reading. When I need inspiration I just start reading up on the subject. This week I've been working on the plot for the USS Falcon Christmas Special. To start I did the simplest thing I could think of, I googled on the term 'Christmas special'. That lead me to a bunch of Christmas special related wiki pages including a full listing of Christmas specials from running shows. While going through all the information I found I made a mind map to keep track of Christmas related ideas. Later on I'll use that to determine the main plot of the special.
The second trick is using the characters of the story. Since the characters of the USS Falcon are pretty much done I can get inspiration by just examining how they would react to a particular situation or another character. It gives information on what plotlines could work. For example, I don't have a religious character in this story so it would make no sense to focus on the religious part of Christmas.
The last trick is using cliches to your advantage. I've talked about this before and I can't talk about it enough: cliches are cliches because they work. So use them to your advantage. My mind map for the Christmas special is loaded with cliches. Not because I'm going to copy them into the story, but because they can help me set up a plot for this special.
So that's my way of finding inspiration when I'm not in a flow. I'm curious, what do you guys do to get inspiration?