Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

The other day one of my Twitter author friends commented that she hadn't accomplished as much with her novel during the week as she would have liked. My tweet in response was, "Relaxing on the weekend can help you write your novel more than you know."

Sometimes the best way to make progress with your writing and/or editing is by taking a break. I'm not referring to a situation where your progress is stymied by writer's block (I've previously written an article detailing How to Cure Writer's Block.) I'm talking about a situation when your writing is proceeding slowly, but surely, according to your vision, but, you need to come up for air, get refreshed, and recharge your batteries.

Getting away from everything, even for a short time, can reignite your creative juices. Take a step back from your writing, stop thinking about your plot and characters for awhile, and instead clear your mind. Taking a break from your work-in-progress can help you refocus on your writing.

So, where should you go for inspiration? Sometimes the answer is right in your backyard. Join me as I step outside.

Need inspiration? Look outside your door.

"Sometimes inspiration comes easily and sometimes it takes work to find it," Elsie Larson writes on the A Beautiful Mess blog. Accompanied by beautiful photographs, she lists "10 Places to Get Inspired" including a farmer's market, a country drive, a picnic, and a coffee shop. As someone who sits down in a coffee shop to write every morning, I find the setting very suitable for my creative efforts, but not particularly inspiring, so I have to look elsewhere.

In an article on the 1stWebDesigner website, Rean John Uehara lists the "6 Best Ways To Find Inspiration". These suggestions are more to my taste because they include "Be Guided by Nature" and "Solitude Bears Fruit". In the article Rean writes: "Be in a place where you can be alone to think of nothing at all and relax your mind. As opposed to finding inspiration, offer yourself a break and just sit still or walk slowly." Amazingly, thinking of nothing can indeed clear your mind and result in a subsequent burst of creativity.

Nature can surprise you with its beauty. Even a tree trunk can be inspiring!

The first place listed in Sid Savara's article "20 Places Inspiration Strikes – Where I Go To Get Inspired" is hiking. "Hiking up and across ridges gets me away from everything," he writes. Hiking in nature gives him an opportunity to "get some perspective – and oftentimes, some new ideas about my life, and topics to write about."

This is something I believe in as well! Just across the street from the backyard of my home is a ridge in the rolling Judean Hills, a stretch of protected forestland to the west of Jerusalem. At this time of year, the hills are covered in green, with flowers poking out from among the stones on dirt trails that weave their way through the valleys. It takes me about 30 minutes to hike down to the bottom of the valley, a journey that often surprises with the wonders of nature.

Keep your eyes open while taking a walk, you don't want to miss the surprises of nature.

There is a fork in the trail here, with one path leading to the top of Har HaRuach (Wind Mountain), and another leading down the valley toward the tunnels being dug for the new high speed rail link to Jerusalem (detailed in Tunnels to Jerusalem). I sit down in a clearing, enjoying the solitude, the quiet, and the fresh, clear air. The only noise I hear is the buzzing of insects and the call of a circling hawk, high above.

Clearing my head in a clearing, at the bottom of the valley

I am not thinking of my writing - my manuscript awaits further edits and revision. I am not thinking about my job, or even of my family. My mind is blank, empty, thinking of nothing. And, it's a good feeling. I have hiked 30 minutes to a place where few go, where I can be alone, where I can clear my mind in solitude. Never mind that the return, upward journey will be a trying, challenging ascent - for now, I am not concerned about that.

The silence is comforting, the cool breeze on my face soothing. Like a mobile phone plugged into an electricity socket, I feel my batteries being recharged. My energies, physical and creative, are revived. I have no doubt of my abilities. I have all the strength I need to to climb back up the mountain trail to my home. I have the initiative and creativity to continue the work on my novel. I have renewed vigor and a better grasp on life. I have been inspired to continue.

A hike into the forest - that's where I get my inspiration. What about you? Where do you go for inspiration?

The silence, and the cool breeze, recharge my creative batteries

Related articles:

How to Cure Writer's Block

How I Found Time to Write in My Busy Schedule

Daydreaming Is Part of a Writer's Job

Writing In My Sleep


  1. Inspiration really is everywhere. Towards the end of the winter I took a long walk in my small town. I'd forgotten about the old cobblestone bridge. It was so quite and peaceful as I walked across. Not a sole in sight. you couldn't help but be inspired. It really reminded me of the inspiration that's right under your nose all the time.

    1. Thanks for your response, Allan. I am hoping it will 'inspire' others to comment as well.

  2. Today my inspiration began to wobble and I know the reason. I've been visiting daughters for nearly a month and I'm away from my greatest source of inspiration--my back yard. There I have mountains where the tamaracks are greening, a pond that is hosting a Great Blue Heron and other migratory fowl and a garden with soft, black dirt. With cup of coffee in hand, I begin my mornings just staring at the pond, the sky, the mountains. Then I go write. Now I know the length of the charge on my writing batteries and it's time to get back outside! Thank you--I needed this post tonight.

    1. I'm glad this post helped inspired you Charli! Get back outside and then start writing. :)

  3. I totally agree with what you say. Whenever I surround myself with greens, I would suddenly feel so liberated, the birds' singing, the flowers' scents, the trees' rustles... I guess humans aren't meant to live in cities. They're supposed to live in environment in which they're surrounded by nature, and that's the place where our brains could work in its optimal state. ;)

  4. Ellis,

    Your writings are fantastic. Whenever I can I'm reading what you write.

    Inspiration acts mysteriously inside me. Sometimes just one word to trigger inspiration. Certainly nature helps me a lot, but one of the most valuable sources are the songs.


  5. For me, inspiration comes from either putting myself into a natural setting (walking the dogs, getting out the kayak etc) or surrounding myself with other writers. Workshops, retreats and writing groups all work, but any other kind of social gathering (while fun to be sure) distracts rather than inspires me.

  6. Ellis- Thanks for this lovely blog post.I related to your sources of inspiration, as I fuel my muse with hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and being in nature almost every day. I live near a mountain ("Monte Sol"), an 800-foot elevation increase, just under a mile to the summit, but some weeks I do this every day. On the way up, I often get some of my best ideas; sometimes I will journal as I sit at the top on sunny boulders. Sky, trees, sweeping vistas: they give me my best ideas!

  7. Thanks, Ellis, I just wrote about something similar and the place I picked out was the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. There is a spot with metal scaffolding where you can view some petroglyphs. The glyphs tell a story, one that is universal to our experience. It's not an epic or anything, just a boy whose pride overrules good judgment and has to be saved by his father. The "self-published" author is unknown, but it is all both humbling and an inspiration.