Okay, so you’ve come up with a title, and you’ve fleshed out your main characters. You even have a rough story line and possibly an ending. Plunking yourself down in a chair in your typical office (whether it’s the couch or an actual office), your spouse, kids or pets knock and scratch at the door. Uh huh. Go away. Oops, the dryer just beeped. Time to fold that laundry!
Sigh. When will there ever be time and space to write? As with anything else, you have to make the time and find the space. If what you’re working with isn’t working, maybe it’s time to reconsider. I know how comfy your ‘space’ is. You like using a certain cushion to sit on, or a pen for side notes. Fine. Bring along your cushion and pen. And a laptop.
Why leave your normal space? Because writers look to their environments for inspiration. Settings offer up a buffet of colorful, lively things to absorb. People, architecture, weather, landscapes, animals. Envision foggy, weather beaten docks anchoring forlorn beaches, mystical forests with giant trees . . . Or the whiff of body sweat and newspaper ink fanning up from commuters perched on vinyl seats . . .Sometimes we forget the small details unless we’re directly observing them.
I’ve compiled a list of 10 inspiring (and some unusual) locations to write that book or next chapter. Pack up your writing tools and try a new location for a bit of spark.
Parks are busy places. People walking dogs, throwing Frisbees, practicing yoga, etc. A lot can happen in a short amount of time while sitting on a bench and ‘people watching’. Parks may also offer ponds, wildlife, and flowers. If nature’s your thing, take a trip to the park.
- 2. Beach
Sunbathers, joggers, strollers, all tend to frequent beaches. More than people, the shoreline offers tactile and sensorial appeal. Inhale the smell of seaweed and salt in the air mixed with the foamy break of the surf. Beaches are soothing, relaxing environments.
Opposite to beaches, cafes are lively, loud places, with an array of customers. People of all ages bustle in, waiting for their coffee and pastries. You can eavesdrop on neighboring tables and get wonderful ideas for characters.
Seeking solitude? A library is a sure bet to be left alone if you’re the type that needs peace and quiet. Also, libraries are filled with resources at your fingertips. Great combination.
Yup. Dead people occupy cemeteries. Occasionally living ones too. Cemeteries evoke a mood and if you’re writing a mystery, a sad scene, or a death, what better inspiration than a few acres of graying tombstones to jumpstart that writing?
Check in and check out. Leave the family behind and reserve a night or two at a hotel or motel. You don’t need to stay in a 5 star luxury resort (although that’s your choice). Having your own room for a short while, with the intention of getting some writing done, will provide a quiet, safe work place. Order room service and fluff up that pillow.
Public transportation is eye-opening. Riding on public transit can be enlightening. People from all walks of life and all ages use public transport. Simply cataloguing physical details and behaviours can offer up a load of detail for your next protagonist or antagonist. Airplanes are fascinating environments to people watch. There are long delays, hungry and excited travelers. Plus, you’re in close proximity to one another for an extended period of time. Chatting up flight attendants or seatmates can give you oodles of background details for plots or characters.
While at the mall, shoppers become absorbed by their purchases and their minds are usually tuned out and turned inward. They’re probably busy wondering where they last saw those coveted shoes on sale. This is a great place to get lost in the crowds. Park yourself in the food court or on a bench and just watch.
You might as well take it a step further and leave the sandy shores of a beach and head for the open water. If you can arrange it (and the weather won’t sink your vessel), try writing in a rowboat, or a canoe, or a bigger boat if you can afford it! Being away from the land, adrift on the open water is full of sensory stimuli. The lap of water against the hull, the solitude, the sheer absence of human sounds can free up your mind, providing you with nothing other to do than write.
- Roof or Fire Escape
Yup. Sounds crazy, I know. But you’ll be left alone in this spot. No one is likely to bother you let alone see you. Even more, your creative spark will be ignited by being up high—with a view. The adrenaline rush of having a solitary vantage point of everyone below gives you a form of anonymity over everyone else. As long as you’re not afraid of heights!