We all find ways to inspire our writing. For me, it is often a location. I am especially partial to a nice café, a local Starbucks, or a bar with a nice ambiance. Most of all I find places that inspire memories and a sense of nostalgia to be the best writing environments.
This week I traveled to Washington, D.C., where I lived for five years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. We are here to help my sister in law as she has her first baby, which means I am in charge of watching our seventeen month old, and my time for writing is scarce. However, I was fortunate enough to escape and write for a few hours at the Tabard Inn. Right away I knew I had found my writing location, and two hours later I had busted out some of my best writing of the year, I believe.
The Tabard Inn
The Tabard Inn brought back memories of my second year of graduate school in D.C. and the friends and experiences there, my time working for the government in post conflict reconstruction and all of the fun interagency conflict that entailed. It also brought back memories of meeting my wife, falling in love (almost instantly), and proposing to her. I have had some great times in D.C., and as I sat there in the dimly lit lounge, full of couches and a soft flickering of candlelight, I drank my coffee stout and felt the muse sweep over me. Whenever I return to D.C., I now know where I plan on getting my writing done.
I share this today to encourage you all to go out there and find what it is that inspires you to write at your best. Is it a dark lounge, or a crowded Starbucks? Some people like libraries, but they are too quiet for me. For me these hidden gems work best. But they don’t only exist in places we’ve been. Just as inspiring can be the places we have never been, those places that fill us with a sense of mystique.
Italy and Cinque Terre
If you have traveled abroad and are a writer, I am sure you have found many great places to write. I have lived in Japan, Italy, and Korea, and traveled extensively in addition to this. If you get a chance to visit the pastel Italian location of Cinque Terre, you will want to sit and look out over the ocean cliffs and write the next great novel, during breaks from hikes between villages and exploring the unbelievable scenery, naturally. I believe the path for the nature beach, read nude beach, is just off of the fourth trail. When is the last time you wrote naked on a beach? Bring some fresh pesto and a bottle of wine and you have heaven. I may or may not have done this, but my screenplay “Hounds of God” has several scenes directly inspired from Cinque Terre, and every time I read the script I am whisked back to that wonderful place.
Japan and Kyoto, Okinawa, and Sapporo
How about the temples in Japan? I am sure you will be inspired as the rain sends ripples through the pond that surrounds the golden temple of Kinkakuji. Don’t forget the tranquil beaches of Okinawa and the sake-pineapple bread that you MUST try, or the endless beer gardens that fill Sapporo in the summers and that one or two little flings you may have there. Japan, like many countries in this great world, is full of culture and architecture sure to inspire you. I have a novel outlined and a completed screenplay that were heavily inspired by my travels in Japan. Writing these and remembering everything I experienced over there was an amazing experience. A trip to such a place may be purely for fun now, but the memories will likely find their way into your writing someday. If you can get some writing done while in country, all the better.
So many places have inspired my writing or served as perfect writing locations. I recall a bar in Germany that felt like a medieval tavern, a hotel in Puerto Rico that was surrounded by rain forest and made me fear for my life as I wondered how long it would take someone to find my body if the worst should happen, and castles and battlefields in Scotland that directly inspired certain chapters of my novels. If not for these experiences, I would not be the writer I am today or plan to be.
Go out there and see the world, or at least find the amazing café, bar, or castle in your backyard that will bring out your best writing. Check out my co-blogger John Kingston’s post On Solitude and Writing for his great and related experience (hint: It has to do with a week in a cabin). Do whatever it takes and get out there! Sure, you can write at Starbucks or in your house every day, and maybe that will be all you need. But I choose a more inspiring path, and encourage you to do the same.