Peggy Bechko: 7 Places for Writers to Find Inspiration

From Peggy’s great blog:


by Peggy Bechko

Being a writer means spending a lot of time behind a computer screen even while we realize that finding inspiration, fresh new ideas, means getting away from the computer. Still, many of us don’t don’t do it, risking losing motivation, inspiration and even writer’s block. Whether you write stories, scripts, articles or anything that requires new viewpoints, new ideas, new subjects, getting out and about is the way to spark that creativity.

When you think about it, most of our best ideas comes to us when we’re away from the computer, when we’re simply outside in the fresh air or taking a shower, or listening to a favorite song. Sometimes when you’re least expecting it an epiphany fires off like lightning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go looking for it.

And don’t think it’s just for writers. Using your brain, seeing new things, hearing new ideas is good for anyone. Readers, writers, expanding human being – get yourself out there.

So, today I started ruminating on places where it’s likely to catch up with an idea, something new, something not waiting for a writer behind that computer screen and here’s the short list I came up with. No doubt you can add greatly to it if you give it a little thought.

A Train Station. It’s a good place to expose yourself to people running hither and yon, busy, lots of conversations. People going to work. People setting off to meet loved ones. Others out for a day of fun or on errands. Even more fun to get on one and take a ride, especially in you’re in an area with a commuter train. We have one here. Can take my laptop along, make notes as I cock an ear and listen. Even the atmosphere is conducive to sparking new ideas. Writer’s immersion and people watcher’s delight.

An Airport does much the same. Not so easy to get on a plane though, unless you’re really headed off for some destination. Still, just visiting a local airport, hanging out, getting a coffee can be great fun and a good kick to your writer’s muse.

Got a beach near you? Kick off your shoes and wander the sand for a bit. Not only do you get to see some interesting characters (waaaay interesting sometimes) and pick up fascinating snatches of conversation, but the warm sand under your feet, the rolling of the waves is relaxing all by itself and relaxation invites the muse in. It’s also a great place for readers to kick back and enjoy the latest book while reclining in the sand.

Have you visited a playground lately? There’s lots going on there if it’s a popular one. Kids, large and small, parents, irritating teens. The bucolic and the possibly threatening. Sit on a bench. Open your eyes and ears. Read a book or write a bit on your tablet or laptop, then focus again and see what you pick up. Oh, and try not to look like you’re stalking the children.

Got a local college? Then head on over. They have their own bookstores, coffee gathering places and you might even consider taking a class or auditing one or just attending a public lecture. Lots going on here to give you ideas. Lots of writer fodder and plenty for readers and everyone else who enjoys learning.

The Gym may sound like a weird place to get ideas for writing or just some serious people watching but if you’re exercising (and I’m guessing that’s why you’re at a gym in the first place) you’re burning off anger, frustration and emotion. You’re also out there with other people who’re probably doing the same. Writers can definitely pick up on new ideas here as they work out their own frustrations.

The Big City. If you live in one you know what it’s like every day in the sea of humanity. If you don’t, it’s great place for writers to visit to get into the bustle of it all. And, if that city has some high places – head upward, give yourself a new perspective, look down on it all for a while. Get thee to a rooftop. New York? The Empire State Building is still a fantastic place to go look out at it all. Not to mention the tourists you’ll be packed in with while riding the elevators to the top.

I’ve offered a few places to get yourself away from the computer and spark some new ideas. There are lots more like visiting a foreign country, going to the mall, or just taking a walk in the countryside. Even walking around inside your own house and being determined to see with new eyes.

So, tell me, what kinds of things do you do, where do you go to inspire yourself, to spark new ideas? I’d love to hear about them. Post them in the comments below.