Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Writers Find Inspiration at Home

Recently, I shared a post on how writers spend their vacations. A lot of writers mention they use their vacations for inspiration. This, of course, got me wondering how writers find inspiration at home. Sooooo... I asked readers of the free weekly newsletter to share their tips with me.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Enoch Li: I get my inspiration from home by creating the setting that makes me feel relaxed and comfortable--soft cushions and a big bean bag with a cup of fresh mint tea. I close my eyes as I breathe in the rejuvenating fragrance, and when I open my eyes, I look around my home and out the window and think to myself: "What a beautiful home!" Then, I open my Word document and type away for the next few hours, looking up and around me every now and then, sinking further into my bean bag. I can type for days like this with the inspiration just flowing with the sense of clam and beauty around me.

Steve Sears: I stay inspired by being "surrounded by my home library." I have a 210-book library that starts on my right hand side and continues behind the back of my desk. Whenever I need a break, no matter how long, I'll pick up a book and read a passage, or take extended reading away from the desk.

Rich Moser: For me, the key to inspiration is to expose myself to many sources of input, including nature. So I try to vary my days, not have a routine, keep up real social contacts (not Facebook!!!), and read from many sources. I figure there will be nothing to inspire me if I don't have contact with anything except my own mind and the life that springs from it.

Bonnie E Martin: I realize this is going to sound a bit risque, however, it has been the best inspiration for me throughout my 30 years of writing. I don't go "seeking the answer or inspiration" when I am working on my many projects. All I know is when the following happens, my mind is filled with fresh ideas, directions and even dialogue. The way I stay inspired at home comes from every time my husband and I make love! It sounds hokey, especially when you discover I have written more children's stories than I ever have written adult-themed articles or stories. Still, after that intense closeness with my soulmate, a torrent of ideas flood my mind, and I can't wait to get back to my writing.

Maryanne Petkac: I have recently discovered trail running and have fallen in love with it. I cannot begin to tell you the thoughts and ideas that pop into my head while running; in fact, last October I sent a piece titled "Trail Running" to, and they published it on their website! I am currently collecting materials in preparation to write my graduate thesis (I spent some time in Belfast in June doing research and wish I had seen your e-mail regarding inspiration away from home) and while running, have fine-tuned my thesis statement and put together a tentative outline. Trail running inspires me, challenges me, clears and opens my mind, all while allowing me to enjoy nature.

K. Dawn Byrd: Within the last few weeks, I've suffered from a major case of writer's block, and it couldn't have occured at a worse time, because I'm on a deadline. I found my plot had holes in it the size of the Grand Canyon. Taking an hour-long walk with my husband and my two Chinese Cresteds every night really helped. I talk about my plot with hubby (who is not a writer), and he brainstorms with me. It helps to get a man's perspective and sometimes he comes up with something that totally rocks my plot!

Sylvia Safran Resnick: I have been living in a retirement hotel for two years now. Many of my neighbors are Holocaust survivors and therein is my inspiration as I get to know their stories of courage and survival. My imagination flourishes and my heart responds in a way that makes it necessary to commit my feelings to paper. An observation here, a rush of emotion there, all conspire to make their way into the lives of my fiction characters as I move them from my imagination to paper.


Good stuff. Stories from your neighbors, running on trails, going on walks, surrounding yourself with the proper atmosphere (and books!), and yes, even making love--these are all great ways to get inspired at home. I've tried most--if not all--of these methods of home inspiration.

One of my most effective ways to get inspired is actually not home-based: it's when I'm behind the wheel. Since I used to spend a lot of time commuting each day, I perfected a technique of writing while I was driving (without looking at the paper). Now, I don't commute, but I do zip up and down I-75 once or twice each month to visit my Ohio boys. That's not the only time I feel inspired, but it's rare for me not to write a few new poems and ideas during those long drives.


What would you do?
Idea hits as you are about to fall asleep.

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My favorite home-based inspiration? Probably music. Here are a few of my favorite albums to write to:


Nora B. Peevy said...

I get inspired by the books I read. I find short story anthologies to be the best for spawning new ideas and opening me to new styles I wouldn't have tried before. Reading is integral to being a writer. It also doesn't hurt to plug yourself into your iPod and just daydream in bed. Never know what lurks inside your mind, until you relax. I also find a lot of inspiration comes from the nightly talks with my husband where we joke around about insane characters and ideas we make up. More than a few have ended up being great stories.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

There are so many poems I've either started or first drafted after turning off the light (to go to sleep) and then turning it back on.