As a writer, you know how important setting is to your stories. But what about your own setting—the place(s) where you do most of your writing? Where you write can be just as important as what you are writing (poetry, psychological thriller, vampire unicorn dystopian novella?), how you’re writing (pen and paper, laptop, old Remington typewriter?), or even when you’re writing (morning, noon, midnight, 7:33 p.m.?). Sure, you can plop your writer butt down in a coffee shop and attempt to bang out the next great American novel, but why be like everyone else? You certainly don’t want your writing to be like everyone else’s, do you? Of course not, so open your mind, think outside the proverbial box, and try some place new. You just might be surprised where you find inspiration…
Here are 6 unlikely places to write and find inspiration:
Yes, the Laundromat. Nowadays, many of them have free Wi-Fi and little tables—some even have full-blown cafes. Which means you can order a croissant and an Americano while you clickety-clack away on your laptop. And the spinning of your delicates can be quite mesmerizing as you’re brainstorming about who killed Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick.
It may seem counterproductive to drive all the way to the train station to sit amongst the comers and goers. But trust me, the hustle and bustle of real people coming to and fro can lend quite a bit of inspiration—and reality—to whatever you may be working on. And many train stations now have the old Internet up and running, so there’s a win. Plus, if you get stuck, you can just people-watch until the muse is back. Not to mention, Amtrak now offers a Writer Residency Program, which means you can write that novel AND have a mini “moving vacation.”
While you probably can’t get up to the gates without stripping down and getting a hands-on meet-and-greet from a TSA agent, you can sit in a designated lobby. Like train stations and laundromats, many airports offer free Wi-Fi (which may or may not have a time limit). This is a great way to people-watch and glean a little inspiration for new characters. And you can always daydream about hopping on one of those planes and flying away to Paris for a real coffee and croissant.
OK, so maybe you’re allergic to exercise. I’m not saying you should get on the treadmill or anything. But going to the gym (if you have a membership or if they allow non-members in certain areas) can be another great source of inspiration. And if you’re writing a novel about an ugly-duckling-turned-swan who finally gets the guy (or girl), well, you’ve got inspiration at every elliptical. Plus, possible free Internet, a café (with healthy shakes to keep your brain boosted!), and the whirring of exercise equipment can all be meditative and foster some serious creativity.
The go-to place for people-watching. Families, couples, teenagers, old folks—you name it, there is character inspiration everywhere. And the dialogue of mall-goers is generally unfiltered, so feel free to take some snippets here and there from anyone walking by. Again, possible free Wi-Fi, tables (or even those awesome massaging recliners), and Auntie Anne’s (because pretzels and writing go together like…pretzels and writing). Just try not to go on a shopping spree in the middle of your writing session.
Yeah, this can sound creepy. Unless you’re writing a creepy novel, in which case, creep on. Some cemeteries are well-kept, with beautiful grounds. And if you’re writing a ghost story or zombie novel, well, you’ll already be smack-dab in the middle of inspiration. Plus, it’s peaceful and quiet and you’ll have a plethora of names to choose from. And at least you know the “patrons” won’t bother you—well, let’s hope not.
Honestly, you can find inspiration anywhere—even the bathroom…sometimes it just takes a change of scenery (and a little peace and quiet) to get the words flowing.
Just use your imagination. Put on your raincoat or your swimsuit, slather on a little sunscreen, and pop in a CD of ocean sounds and boom, you’re on a tropical island. Do whatever you need to do to trick your mind into thinking you’re somewhere exotic and get those creative juices flowing.
Where are your favorite—and unlikely—places to write and find inspiration?