Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

As chronicled yesterday, San Miguel de Allende is quite an inspiring place. The landscape and architecture are beautiful, the weather is perfect, and they somehow manage to have a spectacular sunset every single night. No surprise, then, that artists and writers have been coming here for years for inspiration. It's a great place for creativity.

It got me to thinking about how all writers seem to have a place (usually closer to home) where they go when they need to unlock the creativity or possibly beat a case of writer's block. Some places just get the mind thinking and the creative juices flowing.

Where do you go when you need inspiration?






163 comments:

joannehuspek said...

Funny. I go to San Francisco. It's the one place where I can get the most work done.

Tina Lynn said...

I hang out with my kids. They are excellent sources of cute and funny dialogue.

D. Clay said...

Interesting question. It depends on what you're writing. Sometimes all it takes is the right music on the iPod; other times demand escape.....to anywhere!

Rabid Fox said...

I've never felt that any one physical location offered me more inspiration over another. If I'm looking to write, there are certainly comfy spots I seek out to help get the job done. But for just the inspiration to write, I tend to just crawl inside my own head. Those last fitful minutes before going to sleep at night, staring up through the darkness towards the ceiling, that's where I'll find some inspiration.

Lisa Desrochers said...

The open road in my car, with the top down and the music up. (My muse is a wannabe rock star.)

Susana Mai said...

I sit on my couch, get cozy, wrap up with a blanket with my laptop on my lap. I've got to have a drink, got to have a little bowl of Nestle's chocolate chips. The best time is in the evening, around seven or eight. It's the best feeling, being safe in your own home and writing about evil and darkness and twisty plots!

Jeannie said...

I have a place in Cambria, CA where I go. It overlooks the ocean and I feel completely inspired when I visit.

Birgitte Necessary said...

I get in my car too...or I get off my butt and walk. When I let my mind go, it starts having long conversations with itself and whatever people are hiding out in there, sometimes the conversations even relate to my story.

I also LOVE Pandora radio. If I'm writing certain characters it helps to hear certain music and I can dial up a huge variety of blues, or rap when I need it.

Beautiful settings don't inspire me because I'm not writing about beautiful things. I'd go to the tropics AFTER I was done writing.

InMyDreamsItWasSimpler said...

I go under the duvet with a good book!

Kelly R. Morgan said...

I have the Cascades in my backyard. Snow in the mountains and not on me is one of my favorite settings. Most of the time I can just look out side or take a short drive.

Sam said...

Any number of things that people have mentioned--go for a walk, read a book, drive.

I think the most important thing for me is to relax, whatever it is that I do. Can't let nerves and neuroses control how I write. I relax, and come back later--refreshed.

Amie Boudreau said...

I don't get to go there anymore... but The French Quarter for me was always inspirational for both my writing and my photography.

Such a diverse place where you can see so many different people and things all in one small area of a city.

Kristan said...

Europe. I mean, ideally. When I can't afford that (which is, oh, always) I just put on headphones (sometimes with music, sometimes without) and just write.

Walks help. Drives help. Showers help.

Trace said...

For me it's about attitude. I have to have the right attitude and stillness.

M.J.B. said...

I try to find some sort of quiet slice of nature when I can, but typically I have to resort to a memory of one of my favorite spots on earth, because I can't quite afford to go there all that often: a wooden bench in a small, quiet clearing surrounded by eucalyptus trees on the side of Mt. Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. I still call it my Eucalyptus Nook, and I'm hoping to get back there this year (after five years away).

Otherwise, I'm pathetic in that I love corporate coffee shops like Starbucks, because they provide consistent, predictable atmospheres that allow me both to drink tea and to forget where I am. For whatever reason, the coziness of this inspires me. I'm perfectly comfortable being typical in this regard!

Matt Ryan said...

Nathan -

Great Question. Many things inspire me and get my mind moving and they all have one common denominator: departure from the day-to-day (i.e. joy of life).

A fantastic movie, music, exercise, road trips, sunning in my backyard, exotic destinations, and letting loose are all things that get the creativity flowing.

I find I'm most creative the morning after a social night of debauchery.

Heather said...

My bookshelf, or the library.

Richard Gibson said...

I go for a walk in the country with my dog. Often settles problems from turn of a phrase to a whole approach, as well as inspiration to get to work.

debitaoctaviani said...

i come to train station and i see many people and their actvity make me got inspiration^_^

Kayeleen said...

In my younger days, there was a garden with beautiful plants and statues on the campus of my local university. Nowadays, it's really any place with a door that locks so my kids don't climb all over me for five minutes.

Kate said...

San Antonio, Texas. But it's a little far, so sometimes the library. Otherwise, my bedroom with the bed made, the door shut, the heater on, and the drapes closed.

Lauren said...

For me, it's traveling alone. It gives me such a different perspective on the world than traveling with family or friends does. Perhaps it's the constant interior monologue that helps bring forth new insights about my plot and characters, or just the undercurrent of anxiety and unanswered questions that accompany me on a trip alone. Whatever it is, the words always flow more freely during a solo trip, and it continues for a few weeks after I return, too.

Sometimes just getting out on a long walk/run with my dog will do it. Or going to a library or coffee shop on the other side of the city to write. But about once a year, I really get that urge to take a long solo road trip, or head off to the airport by myself. I'm excited about my planned trip for this year -- NYC, coming up in a few weeks. I'm going there for a Sondheim concert, but staying for a few days just to chill out with myself.

D. G. Hudson said...

Places near water inspire me, especially cities like San Francisco, Vancouver, Key West, etc.

Closer to home, it's the walks near water, whether it's a beach, a river, or a lake.

Inspiration can be anywhere, but you have to be sharp to catch it. A new place can always bring up new ideas, when you consider the history and people of that place.

Not all of us can trip down to Mexico, but little trips to get you out of your usual writing place can refresh one's perspective.

elancross said...

The weirdest thing--on the elliptical machine! I have to schedule five extra minutes of gym time so that I can jot down all the ideas that seem to flow one after the other. Sometimes I can't keep up!

Nona said...

i go for a long bike ride . . it delivers oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain.

K.L. Brady said...

I love New York! I justed visited there this weekend. Stayed at the Hilton that was, ironically, right down the street from Simon & Schuster. I always feel energized when I visit there. Somehow, the smell of street dogs, chicken kabobs, and salty pretzel, helps draw out my inner artiste.

Nona said...

i go for a long bike ride . . it delivers oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain.

Nona said...

i go for a long bike ride . . it delivers oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain.

Nona said...

i go for a long bike ride . . it delivers oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Inspiration has struck me on my commute to and from work, but the BEST place is in the shower!

I don't know what it is about it, but I can usually come up with solutions to problems I'm having with a scene. There isn't any music (although that helps in the car) and there isn't any scenery. Just the sound of the water - it really is inspiring!

Anonymous said...

I take "research trips:"
I wrote the full rough draft of a novel in three months in Santa Fe with side trips around the Southwest.
I took a month and then another three-week trip at the end of the novel for another novel in the setting where I wrote it.
I spent a month in North Carolina on the ocean.
If you go off season and sublet a room or an apt or condo, this is quite possible in a very affordable way.
Turn on your senses and turn off the Internet (limit it anyway to once a week e-mails) is vital to these trips too.

Matt Ryan said...

Stacy -

That's hilarious, because I don't necessarily find inspiration in the shower, but solutions to holes in my plot do tend to arise there as well.

Chuck H. said...

Nothing sparks inspiration like a long motorcycle ride. I don't have an audio system on my bike so for entertainment I'm stuck with singing to myself or talking to myself.

For actual writing, I prefer a certain coffee shop in our small town or, in warm weather, the patio at the local college student union. The things one can see and make up stories about!!

WV: cratin - is that a misspelled insult?

Hope said...

Being a stay-at-home mom of two, brainstorming time comes either very early in morning or very late at night. When I need get the brain juices flowing, I pack the kids in car, occupy them with a DVD while I listen to tunes that inspire the writing that needs to be done! My most productive thinking comes through music!

Lisa Schroeder said...

I go for a walk and listen to music that sets the tone for the book I'm writing. Well written songs sung by singers I love inspire me more than anything.

ryan field said...

Jogging on the towpath between the River and Canal.

Tricia said...

i follow a bit of the appalachian trail that runs not too far from our house. i carry a camera and small journal. sometime along the walk a spark of an idea usually happens. if i can't get to the trail then watching a documentary or scanning through the photos on flickr does the trick.

Spam Names said...

Traveling in general always fills me with inspiration, and I always bring at least one manuscript and notes.

I feel, as I wait in an airport or train station, and as I embark on a plane or train, that I can change my life en route, write everything I've ever wanted to write, keep the aerial or elevated perspective--retain it on the ground and charge powerfully through the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, instead of writing, I usually end up reading fashion magazines cover-to-cover and visiting the snack bar and (voila!) the trip is over. Today's travel is so fast. Maybe I should start taking boats...

So...back on the ground...it comes down to drudging away at my desk. After so many years at it, I can write anywhere. The inspiration comes (mild or strong) through the simple act of making myself do it.

But lately, for specific inspiration, I go to my spam filter!

Polenth said...

I don't go anywhere. There's nowhere I can go most of the time. That's not the exciting answer, but sometimes you just have to find inspiration where you're sitting.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I go have a life. Grocery shop, hang out with my nieces and nephews, drive through the frozen wasteland of a beach we have right now. When an idea comes to be I audio-record it into my phone detective style.

Daniel said...

I usually put my earbuds in and go for a walk. Someplace with lots of people that I can watch, occasionally eavesdrop on, and study. Or I just read a good book. Or shoot the basketball around to get my blood going... Or I'll draw/sketch/paint something. That's it.

Charlee Vale said...

Funny, I find inspiration in the little things I notice all around me. I don't have to be in any one place.

But if I actually want to get things done a coffee shop is usually my best bet!

Tabitha said...

I can go pretty much anywhere, anytime, and feel inspired to write. You just need to know how to ask yourself the right questions. :)

Courtney Price said...

To bed :) Seriously! Or the beach!

Scott said...

More and more lately, the car unlocks the creative juices. I don't know why, I just know that normally on the drive to/from work I'm able to work out any kinks in my writing. The bar also helps. I get tons of inspiration for potential characters by going to the bar every now and then and just watching people.

Dara said...

Not sure. I don't have one place in particular that inspires me to write. Anywhere from my living room couch with the laptop and my mp3 music to a booth at Panera Bread or the local bookstore. It all depends.

However, it seems like taking a hot shower always gets the creative juices flowing--that tends to be where I figure out any plot problems. I used to think it was just me but it looks like others find it there too!

Kristi said...

I go to sleep -- it's a method that's never failed me. Plus, it's easy for me to do. I love sleeping!

T. Anne said...

I come here Nathan. Is it a wonder the MC of my new WIP wears lots of orange and lives in San Francisco?

Seriously, my muse lives in my ipod. He also enjoys a good dose of chocolate on a daily basis.

Erika Robuck said...

The Hardbean Cafe, an Indie bookstore/coffee shop in Annapolis, is my favorite local spot (outside of my office.)

My all-time favorite place is at the beach in Topsail Island, North Carolina, at night, on the deck, with my laptop. I fix myself a decaf and put on my Pandora Classical music mix. It's heaven on earth.

The Sesquipedalian said...

I take a half hour walk every morning at 6:00 a.m. My feet know the way, so my mind is free to wander where it will.

Linda Godfrey said...

If it's summer, I try to take a weekend somewhere north of here, preferably with a lake. In winter I go for a weekend in the city or at least a big mall, and people-watch. Best of all are fantasy cons with all the folks, costumes, books, industry people and activities anyone could need.

Closer to home, a long walk or a long bath both help a lot.

Just thinking about all those places is giving me raging cabin fever. Must - schedule - trip!

Harley D. Palmer said...

It depends on the scene I am trying to write. If I need to write some internal dialogue, I usually head to the park. Something about the serene atmosphere really gets the characters talking to me about what they are thinking. When I need to get into the mind of one of my male characters, I might talk to my husband or call my Dad.

The biggest way for me to get inspired though is to write with pen and paper, instead of the computer or typewriter. I don't know what it is, but hand writing just let's the muse free! I save it though for when I am really stuck or if the location calls for it. That way, it doesn't lose its power!

M.J. Nicholls said...

Inspiration is an artificial construct dreamt up by non-writers to make the process seem more akin to the romanticism of classical poets. It's hokum, Mr. Brandy.

Tell you what though, and I say this with a shade of irony and genuine heartfelt emotional stuff:
I don't go to this blog for inspiration. It's like being trapped in a lift with the world's writing talent, all ignoring one another.

:)

Linnea said...

The only thing I need to do to unlock my creativity is to put my mind at peace for a while. I'm lucky. I can do that at home. We live on acreage so if I'm having a hard time with my writing I simply go out and walk in the field with the horses. They're very soothing. I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work once I've spent time with the animals.

Aaron Pogue said...

For me it's church. Or Buffalo Wild Wings.

Oh, and just one time, Dunnotar Castle in Scotland. On bulk, though, Buffalo Wild Wings has it hands down.

Giles said...

I go to London, England; Estes Park, CO, and local coffee shops in the Denver area. I also play story-intensive video games and read inspiring books.

Shelley Watters said...

It might sound a little strange, but I get my best ideas when I'm putting my daughter to bed. I sit in her dark room nursing her and I have nothing to do but think. It's the one time during the day that I am able to simply sit in the quiet and let my muse go wild.

Annoula said...

Anywhere I can hook up earphones and access music. Music affects me very strongly. I use the earphones to wipe out any distractions. Then I close my eyes and lose myself in the world of that particular song. Almost like a form of meditation.

GalaktioNova said...

Aww, this is a lovely question! Thank you!

I need to go somewhere really old... preferably medieval (no problem here in France)... I need to see and touch things that've been handled by generations of awesome and weird people, and as I think about them, I start coming up with their stories.

As a quick and cheap alternative, some atmospheric paintings depicting similarly awesome, old, weird things and settings can do the trick, even online.

Erin said...

In college I went the the campus baseball field, particularly when it was empty. I'd sit in the bleachers, breathe, feel the sun.

Richard Mabry said...

I go to the kitchen, pull out a can of diet A&W root beer, stretch out on the bed, and read a chapter of one of Robert B. Parker's books. Then I let Stephen King's "boys in the basement" work for a while. When I sit down to write again, I'm usually able to move forward.

Anonymous said...

Inspiration comes for me armed with a snipers rifle taking pot shots when i least expect it, shooting me down in the checkout queue, striking me stupid and speechless and rendering my body slow and unco-ordinated. I try and fight back, think about my wife doing things out of character or myself endowed with countless riches and such, but by the time it's got me in it's sights again, I'm a dead man writing ...

winklewitch said...

I live in Richmond BC and wer're surrounded by a Dyke - fingers crossed it's a good one. I go for a walk along the dyke when I get stuck or need some inspiration. When I'm really stuck I do the entire west dyke trail - about 20K.
It's breezy and lined with fabulous houses. Tortoises live in the ditches, and theres an organic meat business that grazes their cows on the land across the dyke. To top it off, there's a park at the end where people are usually flying kites.
Lots of variety, fresh air and exercise make me very inspired.

Reena Jacobs said...

@Stacy McKitrick

Same here, I always find inspiration in the shower. I've speculated why, and the only thing I can think of is that it's a guilt-free time where I can relax. No worries about all the things I should be doing instead of writing. No distractions, just me and the warm heat.

out-totheblack said...

LOL, oh that's funny. I was writing about this yesterday, what stirs my muse.

For me, it is role playing games (with live people, not computers). When I get stuck, I stop and think, "If I were running a game, what would happen next..."

For general getting in a writerly mood, Celtic music does it for me. Not that I'm writing about Celtic things, but that is where my head seems to live. Everytime I hear it, pictures start forming in my head, then the next thing I know, I have to go write.

Susan Gratton said...

I just go to Barnes and Noble. Just being around books is an aphrodisiac for me. It gets the creativity flowing. And it doesn't hurt to think about my book being on one of their shelves someday, either.

DG said...

Reading a good book inspires me, so does browsing Barnes and Noble.

Avery June said...

The North Reading Room of the Doe Library. I remember the hours I spent there reading and writing about things I didn't want to be reading or writing about. Ah, memories. They make writing a novel seem so pleasant and easy.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I love to write in bars, especially if there's a good blues band and lots of bikers.

Sarah said...

There's this incredible place here in town that I go to; it's an old warehouse-turned-coffee-shop that has lots of exposed brick, antique tables and couches, cozy chairs, & awesome artwork on the walls... I take my trusty laptop there, plug in some earphones and let Frank, Ella, Louis, and Billie serenade me with their sweet sounds of jazz. Beautiful inspiration!

Kat Harris said...

Long drives through the Nebraska Sandhills usually do it for me.

Linda said...

I head to the library. Where better to find inspiration than to be surrounded by books?

Other Lisa said...

My shower.

Mira said...

sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep

ah, sleep

Also, blogs, forums and websites are a source of great inspiration for me. Truly. I think it's because my style is first person, dialogue based, and that's exactly what you find on the internet. I have great fun here because it sparks my creativity in a way few other places do. Sadly, that gets me into terrible trouble, but I guess that's the sacrifice I make to my art. :)

Welcome back, Nathan. :)

Kristi said...

National Geographic magazine, Discovery Channel, History Channel, Wikipedia (start clicking random links off of familiar topics...).

Sometimes I just go to work. Not because work is inspiring, but because the creative half of my brain is so starved for use there that it starts inventing whacko stuff to distract me with (explaining the benefits of "paycheck" and "insurance" to that particular brain mass is apparently rather useless...)

sputnitsa said...

I don't do it on purpose (maybe I ought to?) but I find subway rides really move things forward for me.

Charity Bradford said...

With four kids at home, I can't go far. My favorite place is a corner of my local library. It is fairly quiet, I'm surrounded by authors I admire, I can people watch if I want, or I can just plug in my Ipod and get to work.

It's not exotic, or even beautiful, but it works for me.

Thermocline said...

Walking anywhere I can see trees.

Yamile said...

Since my wip takes place in my country, I go online and take virtual tours of my birth town, Rosario. The drawback is that after I do, this homesickness that's almost like a physical pain remains for days. It does drive me to writing my best, but like I said, it hurts!

christine zoe palau said...

Public transportation--a hotbed of absurdity and, therefore, inspiration!

Marilyn Peake said...

Similar to the experience you describe, travel inspires me to write. This past summer, I traveled to Alaska and found that very inspiring. Most of the time, however, I’m at home and need to find other ways to stay motivated to write. The nice thing about writing is that it allows the writer to step into another world created solely by their imagination, and I find that exhilarating. I love the creative process! Also, I tend to write stories set in exotic locations, and I enjoy researching the details of those locations on the Internet and through non-fiction books, even if I can’t actually travel there. I also find motivation in news stories, as I tend to weave political thriller elements into many of my stories. Watching a really good, creative movie also inspires me to write. And sometimes I just need to relax, socialize or exercise before I can actually get down to the business of writing.

Beth Sorensen said...

Any place where waves hit the sand.

Munk said...

Inside, unless of course I am outside, that'll work too.

Nona at 9:36, and 9:37 and... Be careful, too much oxygen can make you repeat yourself, yourself.

Nic said...

It depends, sometimes its a piece of music, sometimes its a movie, sometimes its just looking up to the sky at night, sometimes its people watching. I think you've just got to derive inspiration from everything around you.

The Red Angel said...

I love going to Massachusetts because it's where I grew up and it always gets me to think. There is also sooo much to do and see and observe, it's almost impossible not to strike some ideas there!

I also like taking walks and listening to music. :)

Nick said...

Anything and everything, really. If we're talking about a place though, Lothian and the Borders are wonderful. Particularly East Lothian.

Crystal said...

I go (as odd as this may sound) into my head for inspiration. I think of an idea, and play it through my head for a few weeks (or months) and have different senarios/the story progress and grow the characters.

I also listen to music to get me in the writing mood :)

G said...

Because the particular suburb that I live in has that small town charm (even though the pop is about 20K), I often take walks in the mountain that lies some twenty feet from my house.

Great way to get inspiration.

Ryan said...

I drive to my favorite river. I get a lot of writing done in my van. Here's a long exposure shot of my van on the banks of Oregon's Deschutes river. The train rolled by and my dog stayed really still so you can see him too. I call these trips overnight writing and fishing retreats. The soothing pressure of a river on my legs and the sound of moving water always does it for me.

http://chincurrents.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/deschutes-train-rolling-by.jpg

Jeannie said...

Usually a few days' worth of gardening will do the trick for me.

Anonymous said...

France. When I can, which isn't often enough.

Art Rosch said...

I get my best thinking done on my bicycle. The weather has been terrible, and I've had to resort to an indoor bike lately. It ain't the same, especially as I take a book
and read someone else's writing instead of thinking about my own
obstacles.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Living in the Smokies, in a little fairly secluded cove, is inspiring...the quiet, nature, mountains, creek - all.

Karen said...

I don't do this purposely for inspiration, but find it is where I most of my ideas come to me -- while driving alone in my car. It's a place where all I can really do is watch the road and think, so the ideas flow. Oh, and in the shower. I don't really have a good reason for that one! Not very romantic locations for inspiration. Guess that's why I don't write romance.

AjFrey said...

In books, reading inspires me the most, followed secondly by music. Many of my projects have started with a great song. Something in the lyrics just opens up the part of my brain that stores the ideas.

People watching is another place where I find inspiration. But it all boils down to the "what if"

www.aj-frey.blogspot.com

Michael A. Emeritz said...

I go anywhere other than where I've been writing. Usually a fresh location is all I need. I also take a small notebook with me everywhere, regardless of whether or not I'm working on anything at the time. Then I can always go back to review the notes I've taken in other locations, and this helps to place my mind in a different setting.

Michael A. Emeritz said...

I go anywhere other than where I've been writing. Usually a fresh location is all I need. I also take a small notebook with me everywhere, regardless of whether or not I'm working on anything at the time. Then I can always go back to review the notes I've taken in other locations, and this helps to place my mind in a different setting.

Michael A. Emeritz said...

I go anywhere other than where I've been writing. Usually a fresh location is all I need. I also take a small notebook with me everywhere, regardless of whether or not I'm working on anything at the time. Then I can always go back to review the notes I've taken in other locations, and this helps to place my mind in a different setting.

Kaitlyne said...

I tend to get ideas while I'm walking (I don't have a car so this is often) or out running. I don't really have a specific place that I go to for writing, unless you count work. ;)

There is a fantastic little ramen shop down the road with tables on the roof that look out over the ocean, and in the summer when it was warm I'd often go up there for editing. I haven't tried it yet with writing, but I plan to once they open it up again.

Maureen said...

I go outside. Nature inspires me and clears my mind of all the cobwebs that accumulate while sitting inside. At the very least, I take my dogs for a walk. My ultimate inspirational location is the ocean. Since I currently live in a land-locked state, I only get there about once a year.

trebmal said...

The Magician's Nephew, by C. S. Lewis, specifically the Wood Between the Worlds.

Ed W said...

Perhaps it sounds morbid, but I like to walk through a fairly large neighborhood cemetery. The trees are old and unusual; Hawthorns and other trees one wouldn't find in your typical neighborhood. The tombstones tell stories and the whole setting provides fascinating reflection that generate thoughts and ideas you might not get anywhere else.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Any airport coffe shop really. So many people, so many possible stories. The hustle and bustle and din of voices just takes me out of myself.

Nicole said...

Starbucks. I don't know if it's the caffeine or the high traffic I just love this place. My hubby and I go there every Saturday, fight for the couches, and stay there for 5 hours as I write and he works on his business stuff...he's a financial coach, way over this writers head :)

Heidi C. Vlach said...

My brain/muse/writerly whatsits are most productive when I bribe them with food. Listening to bustling crowds helps, too. So some of my best brainstorming sessions have come while relaxing by myself in a corner of a busy restaurant.

Jil said...

Whenever things get slow I go for a walk with my dog and when I get back I'm ready to write again.On my early morning dark walks, new plot twists come to me.
My dog is great; quiet companion,protecter and warner of lurking coons and skunks.

John N said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John N said...

I go a bit dinghy (meaning, I rig up a single or double-handed sailboat and let the wind do its thing).

Christine London said...

I think inspiration like motivation is internal as well as external. Before I write a demanding scene, I sit in front of my computer, rub my hands together, close my eyes and focus on my blank internal screen. Almost like meditation, except that I am conjuring inspiration to flow and fill that screen with a vision and words of what my characters are going to do and say next. Plugging into that ineffable power in the universe that drives the creative spirit is much like a prayer.
Now for external inspiration there is nothing like being able to actually go to the setting of your novel. The Internet has enabled us to travel to almost any place in the world. So many restaurants and locales have virtual tours. Yet these do not provide the sounds and smells of reality. No matter the magnificence of a postcard, there simply is no equal to physical presence.
Last spring I traveled to the Scot Isle Of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. The land emanates spirit and history. Laced in mist, the verdant landscape has inspired Scots and outlanders for centuries. Small wonder so many tales of romance and passion is set here. The colors of the land and sea, smell of peat fires burning in whitewashed cottages, fresh baked scones and yeasty lager served in low ceiling ramshackle pubs, wind worn faces glowing with the health of the highlands---these are not something one can see and feel over a computer screen. Blessed with the ability to travel, I take every opportunity to breathe the setting of my novels.
At home...nothing like walking the esplanade along the sea in Redondo Beach (California), terraced red tiled homes of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance, curve of sand below, the briny air and call of the gull calm the mind and open it to possibilities.
Thanks for the inspiring question and continuing excellence in your blog, Nathan.

Christine London
www.christinelondon.com

Michael A. Emeritz said...

Anywhere but the place I've been writing most.

Claire Dawn said...

None of my family or really close friends live here so I just notify my (also-foreigners) neighbours and bury myself in the living room for a weekend.

Moira Young said...

I live in Vancouver, and if you've been watching TV lately you've probably noticed that we've got a lot of nature nearby. ;)

I've found it to be inspiring, but I lead a busy life. Writing is my second, unpaid job, so I have to open my laptop whenever and wherever I can.

Lydia Sharp said...

PBS.
Because there's only so many things a sh*tload of snow can inspire, and I can't afford to travel. Or cable.

Anne-Marie said...

I go to San Francisco once a year, for our spring break (actually called March Break here in Canada- two weeks and a bit to go, yeah!) I bring my writing pad for the long plane rides, and love to take it out and about with me when I'm there.

xx
AM

Anonymous said...

Mine's a bit different. I've spent my life traveling all over the world. Ruins, castles, caves, underground cities, far away mountains, oceans, 2000-year old towns, everything. I've seen and done it all.

Blessed with a vivid imagination, I bring my thoughts back to those many places. I then (try to) re-create ancient worlds and conflicts, which I put into stories.

I know this might sound trite, but it's true.

Jess said...

I-10 from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Houston, Texas.

Nothing like the open highway.... okay, maybe not so open but it works for me. :)

Tambra said...

For me the things have worked:
Panera Bread, Barnes and Noble (must be all the books), reading or sitting on the swing in my backyard with my terrier.

Hugs,
Tambra

SB said...

To bed. Seriously. My best ideas happen in that space between wake and sleep...pen and paper always must be handy -- or they get lost there forever.

SB said...

To bed. Seriously. My best ideas happen in that space between wake and sleep...pen and paper always must be handy -- or they get lost there forever.
SB


not too serious i hope

D. Michael Olive said...

I travel over 100K miles a year. The places I visit towing my camera and notebook to record my experiences provide plenty of inspiration.

Tori said...

A car ride or walking around my house with music playing are the best things to get my brain working. That or a walk on a path through the woods near my house, but without music. I get a bit particular with that for some reason.

I also have really crazy dreams all the time and they always get me thinking, what if... And after that I'm hooked.

Lee Thompson said...

Like a lot of other people: reading one of my favorite authors, going for a walk in sweet Mother Nature or doing something else creative, like playing guitar or having sex, gets my creative juices pulsing.

Raval911 said...

Prospect Parkkkkkk :) ....

JessG said...

I like to go window shopping at the mall and watch everyone around me. I try to make up stories about the people I don't know in my head as I go into a store and hear conversations or see what kind of things they are looking at in the store. Makes me sound like I'm stereotyping, but I really just love to go people watching.

I also love just driving and listening to my favorite music. Especially the kind that tells a story. Gives me some great inspiration on what can happen when in a story.

David F. Weisman said...

Starbucks, or somewhere there are enough voices that none stand out and I can have both people and space and solitude.

Lisa Romeo said...

The physical place isn't so important as the activity taking place there.
I forget about "finding ideas" or "being inspired" and just go hang with my husband and kids and try to immerse myself in what they are doing.
Or I go to sleep and what usually happens if that just as I'm waking up, I find myself "writing" in my head and rush for my notebook. Not always, but often enough that I've learned not to question the power of a nap.
If the weather is nice and I have nowhere I need to be and no kids to ferry around, then I take a long slow drive.

The Daring Novelist said...

This may sound crazy but my place is Taco Bell.

Long ago I was a student with a very long commute and a day that started at 8 in the morning and went until 10 at night... but I had a long gap in the middle of the day. Taco Bell was the first place to offer free refills on pop, so I spent my long break there, writing.

Now if I really want to get the creative juices flowing, all I need is the smell of faux tacos.

Lucinda said...

Sleep usually gives me some fully loaded inspiration with ideas I can't think of while awake.

Also, daydreaming is another place I find great inspiration.

So, the "place" I go is eitehr La La Land, or Never-Never Land. They are both magical places where only I can go.

Nancy Coffelt said...

Hoyt Arboretum, 10 minutes by car from my house in Portland, OR. Trees, trees and more trees. There's also a stand of 100 plus year old stand of Giant Redwoods.

A Cathedral.

A total, cedar-smelling cathedral.

Oh, and the dog park. Gotta love pure dog fun.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

One of the best things I've read lately is that writers need to stimulate their senses all the time, even in small ways. So the next time you feel weird for loving a certain pen, or setting up certain books on your desk or whatever, know that it's okay. Creative sources are everywhere.

Ju Dimello said...

Mine may be strange.. but well, here goes..

Intial few stories, I needed a comfortable place to sit with my laptop - with something nearby to munch - it could be popcorn to say some fried snacks.. I really wouldn't know how much I eat then and after a few hours, I ended up with a bad stomach ache.. - Not worth the flow of ideas !

Nowadays, when I am cooking, I find the whole process soothing and in tune with what I want them to do - like put this spice here, there and voila, the wonderful dish is ready.. And this has started giving me inspirations -the story plots, characters and where they want to go, sudenly becomes clear to me - especially if they were muddled earlier !

Healing said...

Writing itself is an inspiration for me to escape the harsh reality of this world.

Anonymous said...

Any place quiet. After dropping off my kids (i have 3 small ones) at daycare, I sit in the van in the parking lot so I don't have to waste any of the few hours I have, and type on my laptop there.

electricether said...

Getting the hell out of Alaska seems to lead to inspiring thoughts. I seem to usually wind up in Hawaii, but I went to London this last year and WOW. What a place. Locally though, I don't really go anywhere. If I ever feel the need to be inspired I just pop in a David Lynch movie (or tv show in Twin Peaks' case) and that seems to do the job. There always seems to be some action or some phrase that I need to hear when I go to David Lynch.

Tara said...

A peaceful walk along the shores of a so. CA beach, or along the boardwalk rejuvenates my creative energies. There is beauty all around. You also have opportunity to meet or quietly observe tons of fabulous characters there!

Julie said...

Swimming laps in the pool. There's really nothing else to think about when you're swimming so it is a good time to figure out plot twists, characters, etc.

Either that or just walking out into my (small) garden.

TheUndertaker said...

Having a shower. I have got almost all my good ideas in the shower : )

KSCollier said...

I go to the beach in Navarre, Florida and escape into my favorite music. I take my recorder as my thoughts begin to flow. I bring a notebook, and sometimes I go to Barnes and Nobles and watch people as I form my characters.

Tiffany said...

I put my IPOD on shuffle and it begins.... My best brainstorming happens in the car.

Mary said...

Sometime I have to get out of the house that is overrun by children. (Yes, mine) I go to a small lake a few miles away to be alone. The lake is only a touch larger than a pond, but it does the trick.

jjdebenedictis said...

I go for a walk inside my own head.

fictionmyway said...

A remote cabin on the shores of Green Bay in Michigan's Upper Peninsula serves as inspiration for me. With the lake in front of me and a crackling fire warming my backside, no television, radio or even internet, the cabin is a wonderfully isolated source of relaxation and creativity.

Chuck H. said...

@Vegas Linda Lou

Knuckleheads, KCMO

Jenn Kelly said...

I wrote my first book at a specific Starbucks inside a specific Chapters. Works like a charm. Of course certain music helps too.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks on Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. Great architecture,lots of seating, picture windows, and the best views of the castle from anywhere in the city.

Lynn Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn Mitchell said...

Back left corner of Starbucks or sitting out under the stars in front of a campfire.

Paolo said...

There’s a valley, near my home town back in Italy, which is pretty to such an extent that no artist would paint it. All the details, the curve of the hills surrounding it, the river, the orchards, the flowers, seem to be put into that place to achieve a dramatic effect in almost too obvious a way. In that valley they don’t grow corn because they need it, but because yellow stands out nicely next to the vineyards.
On top of the highest of those hills there’s an old, mighty tree that looks like it's been standing there since the beginning of time.
I don’t know what kind of tree it is, I couldn’t tell the difference between a birch tree and a baobab (if there’s any), but I’ve been told it’s about six hundred years old. I mean, it was already a grown-up during bloody renaissance.
The hill is pretty steep so when you’ve been stubborn enough to get there, the only thing you really want is either some oxygen or a cosy place to cuddle up and die on, especially in the summer.
I’ve never ever met a soul up there, apart from a dog who once followed me to the top and stayed there while I was practising the violin. He must have been deaf, poor sod. Anyway, I know there’s someone tending the fields around the old tree, the corn is eventually harvested so I’m sure about that. But either those fields are property of the Invisible People or the farmers do their stuff during the night time, you know, so as not to spoil the landscape with tractors and everything.
Its lower branches bend to reach the ground forming some sort of wide and tall dome, so when you actually get close to its trunk you can’t help feeling you're entering some sort of vegetal cathedral. The light that manages to make its way through its leaves ends up being of a greenish - bluish hue that adds to the sacred feel of those few square meters.
Somehow you can’t have mundane thoughts when you sit there between roots and branches, as if the leaves filtered something more that heat and sunlight.
One remarkable thing about the old tree is that somehow he manages not to look self-important. I know I’m humanizing him, but I think he deserves it. He must have offered shade to countless generations of farmers, and witnessed the medieval settlements making their way along the valley, then wars, armies marching by, and eventually me and my wife-to-be just looking at the landscape. Yet he doesn’t have that I’ve-seen-things-you-people-wouldn’t-believe look that keeps you in awe.
It just stands there, quietly, welcoming, always happy to share the view with anyone who needs some shade and clear thoughts.

Damn that was long, sorry:(

abc said...

Since I live in a writing town (among the writer's workshop people--students and teachers), it's fun to go to the more popular local coffee places and sit among all the creative types with their laptops. There is also a coffeeshop in our best independent bookstore and so you get to sit with books, writers, and coffee. I don't know if I get inspired with ideas, but I do get inspired to write.

But I wouldn't mind going to Mexico! Or the Swiss Alps. Or NYC or SF or, heck, Minneapolis.

Watery Tart said...

the raw material needs to seep up from inside, so a very relaxed state is needed... a bath with a glass of wine... dreams...

the building material that pulls them together though, needs physical activity that requires no brain (the power walk works best--sadly, better without music, though that makes it miserable if no ideas flow)

michelle said...

I don't a place. Actually I do, but it works like this; I can be any where as long as I have no pressing responsibilities. And by pressing responsibilities I mean dirty dishes in the sink, piles of unfolded laundry, meals to cooked, etc
So I get more writing done if I am not at home. I write at the beach a lot. At the park. Places like that.

Ellan Bethia said...

I go to a bookstore.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

I wish my muse was inspired by romantic sunsets and beautiful landscapes.

Unfortunately, my "eureka moments" occur at bed time, when I'm in the shower, on a drive or excercising. Talk about inconvenient....

My muse is mischievous(:

Ishta Mercurio said...

Bizarrely enough - and I'm sorry if this is too much information, but you did ask - I get my best thinking done in the shower, and in bed right before I fall asleep. Which kind of stinks, because neither of those places is particularly conducive to stopping everything to write something down, but there you go. Life can be like that sometimes. Or, for me, a lot.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Hey, I'm not the only shower person! Hurrah! I think it's the alone time, with no distractions - because showering doesn't really require attention, it leaves the mind free to wander, and it's a place where you aren't likely to face many distractions from spouses/kids/pets/people who call wanting to sell you vinyl windows/etc.

Cassandra Bonmot said...

Love. Love inspires me. A grandfather deliving his wife a cup of coffee before he pours his own. A dog pissing on the carpet because it's happy that you're home. A young mother wrapping her newborn in a blanket, kissing it on the forehead. A middle-aged couple holding hands like they were teenagers back in high school. Love. Love inspires me.

Anonymous said...

It sounds totally wierd but i sometimes get inspired in the shower. Come on there is nothing better to do in a shower....well except sing!

Marie said...

A cabin in the mountains with no internet service.

Claudia Putnam said...

Crestone, Colorado

Anthony Puttee said...

I go for a run or skate along the pier and riverwalk. Fresh air. Or I go check out a film and escape.

Anonymous said...

That cozy-up-with-cocoa-and-laptop stuff never works for me; I just get distracted. When I really want to be inspired and productive at the same time, I actually have to close myself off from physical sources of inspiration. A bare, boring office forces me to escape into my mind and generate my own inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Erika Robuck said...
The Hardbean Cafe, an Indie bookstore/coffee shop in Annapolis, is my favorite local spot (outside of my office.)


that used to be MY spot too!!! (before I moved to PA). Now, there's a few spots I go to, depending on if I wanna walk to them, or drive few a few miles.

Haven't found that ONE coffeeshop around here like the good ole Hardbean yet. Still searching, tho.

mariasmcdonald said...

Anywhere but home.... usually the coffee shop. I tried (very inconspicuously - sometimes I feel like a spy!) to scrutinise and analyse the patrons in the coffee shop or the passers-by - and before I know it, the inspiration just flows.

Related Posts with Thumbnails