Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I spent last week in the giant redwoods of California with about 300 other writers, editors and agents. An inspired location. As I saw the creativity that grew out of that week it made me wonder, what inspires you?
I decided I’d lean on the collective wisdom of our blog community to share some of the things that inspire creativity and motivate us to write or create.
For me, there are a number of things that I can count on for inspiration. When I was designing and sculpting, a trip to a favorite museum– like the Oakland Museum here in California or the Metropolitan or the Frick in New York– always made me long to get back in my studio and find ways to interpret what I saw and loved.
Books and poetry also became the impetus for many an idea for a doll or a series. I can remember hours spent reading James Whitcomb Riley, fairy tales or folk stories. Even magazine layouts would yield color palettes for me.
When I was writing historical fiction, it was research that would spark a story or a character. The deeper I’d dig into a time period, the more inspiration I’d find. Some of my clients who write contemporary fiction find their inspiration from current newspaper articles. Nonfiction writers often hear sermons or lectures that become the seed out of which their book grows.
We’ve heard of many who get their best ideas in the shower or sitting beside a running stream. Science says it has to do with negative ions or some such thing. I do know a number of writers who have whiteboards in the shower with waterproof markers for those brilliant ideas.
My friend and partner in crime, Janet Grant and I have found our most creative ideas and solutions while sitting beside each other on a coast-to-coast flight. I haven’t decided whether it is the enforced time– time to dream and plan that is so scarce in the busy everyday– or the pure oxygen we are breathing at 38,000 feet. Regardless of the cause, inspiration is the happy result.
Does setting inspire you? My client, Julie Klassen, spends time in English villages every chance she gets. These Austen-like settings inspire her wonderful regencies. Lauraine Snelling wanders all over the midwest, especially the Dakotas. She collects stories, characters, and even character names wherever she goes. Judy Miller visited potteries in West Virginia for her book set there. When setting inspires, it makes the resulting book come alive.
Do you have a magic elixir– a special tea or coffee that does the trick for you?
How about music? I can’t write to music but I would always get appropriate music as a sort of soundtrack to the book I was writing. When I wrote the story of the young Harriet Tubman, I listened to slave music collected by anthropologists, sticking to rhythms and call and response spirituals. It helped me catch the distinctive speech patterns as well as providing pure inspiration.
What about your own setting? I know that I need a beautiful room or a bright studio with everything in it’s place in order to write or create. Other friends need a gentle, homey space, surrounded by all the materials of their research spread out in front of them. Do you need a window onto a garden or a windowless cloister?
So I put it to our collective brain trust. What inspires you?