Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and the author of four best-selling books (The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009)). His work deals with "truths hidden in strange data" and the forces that shape human existence, from the similarities between crime and AIDS to the 10,000 hours it takes to truly master any subject (that's 5 years of full-time work - aspiring authors, check out this blog post to see how much reading and writing this translates to).
In an interview with Reader's Digest Asia, Gladwell gives fantastic advice to writers in need of inspiration:
...the writer must keep his ears and eyes open at all times, because he never knows where the next insight might come from. I find that there is no formal way of getting inspiration. It always comes by accident, by some serendipitous circumstance, and what you have to do is to sort of put yourself in positions where you can find out things accidentally. What I try to do is to “engineer” surprise: that is, expose myself to a constant stream of new people, new ideas, unusual books and random encounters.