Writing inspiration comes in many forms. Places I visit, people I meet, and books I read, all are muses for me. Routines, especially writing routines, are important. Dedicating pen time each day goes a long way to keep those artistic juices flowing. Yet, even the best of us lose inspiration in our daily habits. So what do you do when your creative reservoir needs a good thunderstorm? I recommend writing someplace new.
Psychology has a rather pessimistic view of geographic change leading to happiness. The truth is we tend to overestimate how a change will improve our mood. This is the basis of what is called a “focusing illusion.” Basically, “The grass always looks greener on the other side.”
Accepting that you take yourself wherever you go, micro-geographic changes may help inspire your fiction. When I get bored writing at home, I enjoy spending an afternoon at a local cafe. I’m often surprised by the surfeit of personal information shared by patrons not two feet away! Writers being natural voyeurs of life, I rarely leave disappointed.
This week, I visited Manhattan and my alma mater, Columbia University, while attending a psychiatric conference. Feeling rather uninspired in my overpriced, Upper West Side hotel room, I wandered up Amsterdam Ave., to the Hungarian Pastry Shop. Opened in the 1960s, the cafe has inspired students, professors, and writers for over half a century (see the photo of the Writer’s Wall above).
Keeping my expectations in check, I found a seat near the rear of the cafe and took a bite of my poppy seed strudel (you must try it if you can). The patrons around me were rather diverse, being comprised of students, residents, and tourists, and I quickly learned about the politics of the latest phase of the Columbia University expansion as well as the best place to buy fresh basil between 110th and 116th streets. Smiling, and raising my cup of coffee in homage to the writers who came before me, I began to write. Needless to say, the atmosphere was more inspiring than my hotel room, and before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I added a few new pages to my novel.
Maybe I should move here. 🙂