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Seek Inspiration Elsewhere

Lesson 52 Chapter 6 Module 5

Today is your Week Four Writing Break / Rest Day!

After a week spent pondering the existence and pure purpose of your own writing, it seems like a good time to take a step back and relax a bit.

I wanted to chat more about the different places to find inspiration for your writing that DON’T involve reading a bunch of other writing or sitting at a desk, toiling away over your Google Docs.

So I have a question for you: Where do you go for inspiration?

Again, I’m not talking about other authors or books.

I’m talking about everything else that isn’t writing or reading related at all.

If you are in the habit of listening to writers talk about how they came up with the ideas for some of their greatest pieces and work, you’ll likely find a common theme.

They were out living life and saw/smelled/heard/touched/tasted/experienced something that made them circle back to a thought that had been niggling at the back of their brain.

Consider Maya Angelou’s story last week, about her inspiration for “Harlem Hopscotch.” It was watching children playing hopscotch in two different places that made her want to write about what was special to her in watching the children in Harlem.

I personally learned more about transitions and hooks in writing from watching hours on end of television documentaries (those scriptwriters know how to bring you back after a commercial break to learn what really happened to that scrap of cloth that was found in the basement of a settlement building from 1763.)

Or walks. I am a massive fan of aimless wanders around parks, city sidewalks, hillsides, and similar routes. Places where I have no where particular to go, so I can stop and stare at a particular topiary or corner of architecture or vista.

When I spoke with modern philosopher Monica McCarthy for an old podcast episode, she talked about her routine of visiting a museum in New York City every week to sit on the benches and stare at various paintings and people. This often got her mind thinking about some theory or essay that she had been struggling with in a new way.

Or, my favorite personal way to watch someone create and learn, watch a child. My toddler niece is like an up-to-date case study in figuring out how the world around her works, and how to make new things happen in that world. Whether it is discovering that she can use her plastic Fisher-Price records in the track of her playroom window to create a cog-relay system (yes, she did that when she was barely a year old (*proud Aintín moment)) or simply smashing finger paint around for days on her table to eventually decorate ornament gifts for the family, she is constantly finding ways to bend her mind.

While today should absolutely be about resting a bit, cause life isn’t 24/7 “find ways to create all the time”, it is also worth considering the things you are doing to make your brain work in a way that it doesn’t normally.

Maybe it is learning from someone you wouldn’t normally look to for guidance, as they may not be leaders in their field (in the case of kids, they probably don’t even have a field!)

Maybe it is going for a run or playing a sport and getting those juices flowing through the adrenaline burst.

Maybe it is long meandering walks through cities and nature, to let your mind wander along with your feet.

Maybe it is immersing yourself in the creations of others, through art or architecture or paper straw-paper snakes.

Maybe it is playing with your kids on the playground, or watching kids play in a nearby park (be careful with this one—I absolutely do not think anyone should go be a creeper!)

Maybe it is going to a conference or event that is a little outside your comfort zone, and totally outside your field, like a ComicCon or cosplay event.

Whatever it is, step outside your regular reading and writing track, and see what happens.

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