Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding Your Inspiration – Take a Trip

“Had we but world enough, and time” – Andrew Marvell

Writing takes time. It takes time to think up of ideas, to mull them over in your head, to put them down on page, to revise and edit and revise.

We tend to look upon the first few steps in the creative process as time sinks. Unless I am actually sitting down in front of the computer, hammering away at the keyboard, I am not writing, right? Wrong.

An important part of the creative process is the concept, the inspirational spark, the kernel of an idea. But how are we to find ideas for our writing and the motivation to write when we clomp every day from home to work (or school) to grocery store or shopping mall and back again, with the occasional forays to the dentist’s office or the hair salon?

Yes, we need to find our creativity everywhere and anywhere. But how can that be easy when we stare at the same gray roads and beige walls day in and day out?

A change of scenery may be called for to get your creative juices flowing again. Aside from giving you the ideas you need to spin out another story or write another poem, a voyage may also offer you the quiet time you need (in the hotel, train, plane, what have you) to actually get down to the writing.

The benefits of taking a trip or vacation are obvious. You see somewhere new and perhaps experience a different culture, you get some sun (or snow, if that’s your preference), you’re more active or more relaxed, you minimize distractions from your job or other commitments, you have fun.

But try thinking about your trip from a creative standpoint. Even if you think or do nothing related to your writing while you’re away, you can come back feeling energized and motivated. Use that energy and motivation towards your writing.

That being said, it would be a sad trip if you haven’t seen or experienced something out of the ordinary, something you wouldn’t get to in the usual course of your home or work day. You can use your trip locale, the people you meet, the sights you see, the emotions you experience, in your next piece of writing to lend it authenticity.

Use your trip to stretch your creative muscles
. You might even want to write a travel piece about the place you visited. Or a humourous story about an encounter with a fellow passenger on the plane. Try writing a piece you wouldn’t ordinarily write, in a different style or genre, using your trip as a backdrop.

A trip or vacation doesn’t have to be an all-inclusive romp on a beachfront resort. And it certainly doesn’t have to cost as much. An inspirational trip can be a cheap weekend at an off-season hotel in your area or a day trip to a quaint little village an hour out of the city.

Take a tour of your own backyard – a part of your town you’ve never explored before. Most larger cities have a Chinatown, a Little India and a Greektown. Find out what they have to offer. Stroll along the streets and have lunch in a hole-in-the-wall the locals frequent. Your writing will thank you for it.

Photo courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

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