Want to know how to get the writer’s juices flowing? It’s simple—get moving. And your mind, body and spirit will be all the happier for it. Heaven knows our imaginations can sometimes feel a bit stale if we don’t avail ourselves to new or different surroundings and experiences.
We were reminded of this after reading a recent article in the Press Democrat, The Sonoma County Bucket List: Everything you need to do in Sonoma County before you die (or move away), This fertile material provided us with new fodder on where to write, especially when we want to feel inspired in our own backyard.
One of our favorite things to do is to sit in a crowd of people we don’t know and make up stories about them. What’s their backstory? Why are they there, and what brought them there? What are they thinking as they watch the sunset, dance wildly at a music festival, eat a warm piece of berry pie or have chilled wine on a porch swing. Why do they do what they do?
Another way we spark ideas is to walk or drive through a neighborhood and create a story for the houses that we pass by: who lives there and for how long? What has happened within those walls over the years? How does the house experience the inhabitants (“if walls could talk”)?
For example, while writing on a pivotal chapter in the second book of our Home Sweet Home trilogy, we realized we were in a rut and needed a change from our writing routine. We took a drive out to Point Reyes in hopes of visiting the lighthouse where we intended to craft a scene in our story. We felt the need to research the location and examine the accuracy of a particular scene.
We also carry a notebook wherever we go (heck, we have more than one!) Whenever we get an idea or hear something that ignites our imagination, we jot it down. We collect quotes from people around us, things we overhear in public, and thoughts we have while standing in line. Always at our fingertips, this notebook serves as a reference point when we get stuck, one that we can visit over and over.
Our souls were rejuvenated by the beautiful landscape and we allowed the ocean to evoke a mood in us: how it felt on our skin, the taste of the sea air, the warmth of the mid-day sun, the sound of the seabirds foraging for lunch. Not only did we benefit from being there, but we could visualize our characters in one of the most dramatic plot turns in our novel.
Ten things to keep you writing your stories while exploring new areas.
We made an Inspiration List to help us keep our writing fresh and our stories interesting. This list is for our area of Northern California. We encourage you to make a list for your area.
Journal while watching the sunset on the Sonoma Coast.
Take a walk on Heart’s Desire Beach alone or with your dog or a friend. Studies have shown that being near water invigorates us, relieves stress, and increases creativity.
Try a new dish (or eatery). If you’re near the Sonoma Square, check out the Sunflower Cafe and bask in its artistic ambiance. The back patio is a creative wonder that celebrates food as a living art form that creates new memories and reminds us of times past.
Listen to a stranger’s story while sitting on a bench in the Sonoma Plaza.
Take a slow drive or bike ride along Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg.
Take a tour of historic old barns in the back country roads around Sonoma County.
Visit the bees in the Secret Garden at Quarry Hill Botanical Gardens in Glen Ellen.
Watch cows and horses graze or birds fly over the Petaluma hills.
Kayak along Tomales Bay with a stop for a bowl of delicious Clam Chowder at Nick’s Cove to warm up afterwards.
Take a trip to Jenner at the edge of town where the Russian River meets the ocean. There’s magic where the winding, freshwater flows into the raging salty waters of the Pacific Ocean. An overwhelming number of people say that they associate feeling of calm and peace with the color blue and staring at the ocean can alter the frequency of our brain waves and put us into a mild meditative state. The simple act of touching sand on a beach makes one feel grounded in their body and can bring us back to a younger self that built sand castles and hunted for shells.
Deborah and Georgia appeared as guest bloggers, thanks to Marlene Cullen of the Writers Forum