When I first sat down to write this inaugural blog, I had in mind the typical “3/5/7/10 tips to find your writing inspiration” piece. Then I realized that to cover all of the different ways people find inspiration to do creative work, I would have to come up with a list of 100, 150 – or more.
So, instead, I thought I would share some interesting ways other writers handle the problem of mustering the motivation. Then add my five cents, of course.
To that end, I did a quick poll among my writing buddies and found that one goes for a fast-paced run, another takes a bubble bath, and one even plunges into house cleaning to get in the mood. Now that last one truly baffles me, but who am I to judge?
Now if I were one of those who need even more work I’d get a pet, perhaps following Muriel Sparks’ famous piece of advice from A Far Cry from Kensington, where she says that “If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat.”
Then again, that’s too much work.
So what else? I was recently intrigued an article in the Writer’s Digest about mindful meditation. It discusses the scientific research that is increasingly proving what Buddhist monks have known for centuries – that if you let your mind to go to a dark, quiet place it can free itself from the bounds of rigid, unimaginative thinking. Personally, my overactive mind makes meditation somewhat challenging, but I’m a regular yoga practitioner, and it has done wonders for my mental health in the last 5 years.
Then there is author Liz Crowe, who in a recent blog on the Women’s Fiction Writers’ website, claims jokingly (although who knows??) to have found inspiration in “Hans [who’s] hot and he likes beer. “ I say good for her.
I may have my own Muse (though, regrettably, he doesn’t drink at all), but what’s an even more sure-fire way to put me in the mood for writing – especially on those sunny weekends when I’d rather be out biking rather than hunched over my laptop – is beautiful landscape. Or, barring that, beautiful architecture, because landscape is hard to come by in downtown Boston.
So what’s my go to (literally)? It’s Beacon Hill, which found itself recently on the list of the most beautiful neighborhoods in America, a decision with which I fully concur. Luckily within a walking distance of my apartment, it is breathtaking with its quaint townhouses dating back to the early 1800s, narrow cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks, and did I mention gas street lights? Whether in spring bloom, decorated for Halloween, or under steadily falling snow, it is a place that instantly takes me to a different era, which for a historical fiction writer is pure gold. I come back home physically energized but mentally mellow, which sounds kind of odd, but it works for me. Then I make a cup of tea and sit down to write.
Ultimately, everyone must find what works for them. I love classical music, but I find it doesn’t really make me want to write. Rather, it relaxes me, and then I want to sleep. But if you find what gets your creative juices flowing, do it/practice it/go there often – who knows, the habit may even rewire your brain in such a way that one day it may be enough to think about it, and you’ll be ready to hit the keyboard and write the night away.