Great Places to Get Inspired to Write

There are so many places that can inspire and evoke a story if we’re willing to step out of our comfort zones and do a little exploration. It’s amazing where ideas can spring up. Have you ever been at the grocery store and saw an old lady pushing her cart with slow deliberation, or at the park when a young couple were walking together, arms entwined? These little moments in life are the stuff novels spring from.

So you’re asking yourself where you should be looking. It seems obvious to check out the activity around you in public, but where else could you look? Here’s a great list to consider:

  • Historical Locations– Could an old plantation have a secret passage or hiding place in the paneling? Ask the tour guide if you can get a sneak peak into off-limits areas.
  • The Mall– Could your main character be shopping for an engagement ring? What does a person look like when they’re about to make such a big move?
  • Parks– Are you writing a thriller about someone running from an enemy? Check out the walking trails to see how someone reacts when they’re exerting themselves. 
  • An Alley– Just standing in one even in the best part of town can get your pulse racing.
  • The Local Pound– What does it feel and smell like to be surrounded by the chaos of thirty barking dogs? Could you imagine your character surrounded by a wild pack?
  • An Old Crime Scene- Can you imagine how the assailant gained access into the location? Can you imagine the fear and adrenaline of the victim?
  • An Open Field- Sit down and take in the feel of the air, the rough grass, the remoteness.
  • A Rundown Barn- The smell of old hay and the dark recesses can stir unease or boost happy memories.


The list could go on forever if you had the time to read, but I think you get the gist. If you start asking friends and family, you’ll be amazed at the response you get, and the opportunities that’ll open up. A friend may know someone with a dilapidated barn or a farm with acres of fields. It’s amazing how people jump in to help if you’re willing to ask.

Think of it as an opportunity to use your five senses to improve your writing, not as a boundary issue. In the end, you gain more than two dimensional knowledge, you’ll get to live the scenes before you write them.

How Long Do Your Avoidance Tactics Work?

As I stood in my bathroom I had no choice but to admit the truth. I covered my eyes in shame. Nobody could know what I hadn’t done. The shower glared in my face. It seemed to say, “you let me down.” Brown grime covered the bottom of my shower. It hadn’t been cleaned for too long.

Can you relate? Is there some work waiting for your attention that you haven’t managed to get around to accidentally on purpose?

I pulled the cleaner out and sprayed the walls and basin in repentance. It would take a good half hour for the cleaner to do it’s job. Meanwhile, I’d avoid its accusations. I’d come back and start scrubbing in a bit.

 Why not forestall as long as I could? And I knew just the way to do it: get onto Facebook, check emails, start a new post. The choices were endless. They had the capabilities of keeping me away for a long time. So I sat in my office and pretended to look busy.

It was so easy. Facebook had 29 new notifications. The emails were a mile long. I buried my head into my computer. My critique partners had sent new work to be edited too.

That was when it hit me. Critiquing and editing wasn’t so different from cleaning a shower. I avoided using critiques to edit my work as long as I could. I hid them in a folder that I didn’t have to see until I had no choice.

The problem with that is if I don’t face the work as soon as possible I won’t know to correct the same mistakes in the current chapter I’m working on. That means the problems continue to compile. We all do this in some area of our lives. It seems to be the easy way out.

It only took me a second to get up and return to the bathroom. I scrubbed. I rinsed. I scrubbed some more.

I’d learned a very important lesson. Stop avoiding the hard things. Take a deep breath and face the work now. It’ll make the work in the end easier because there won’t be any time for build up to cripple our forward motion.

So now I’m going to scrub that shower right away, and I’m going to do my best to keep up with my book editing. Will you make the same commitment with whatever work you’ve been called to do?

On the Wrong Mountain or Right Where God Wants Me?

It was two days before the conference and I was stuck on the side of a mountain. What was to be a three hour round trip hike with my family was getting scary. I knew I should’ve canceled the little gaunt. Why hadn’t I listened to the inner voice of reason that tried to talk some sense into me? There was editing to be done on my manuscript, packing to finish, a proposal that needed to be touched up.

My inner complaining halted as I glanced up to see one of the children take their last sip of water from a sport bottle.

“Don’t,” I cried. It was too late. I watched the last drop fall into my daughter’s open mouth. Four hours of rock climbing in the summer sun had drained us all, but the precious water must last no matter how thirsty we were. She moved forward with a sheepish look and an apology.

The peak seemed miles away still. My scuffed fingers and aching feet begged for a break, yet I knew there was no time to stop. We had to get to the top to reach the trail down. Tears threatened to dissolve me into a mess. All I could see was the rock cliff far out of my reach. How would we ever get there with the kids threatening to lay on the ground and not get up?

I squeezed through a rock crevice and the peak disappeared from sight. Climbing the face of a cliff, I pulled my niece up behind me. Some of my family was in front of me, some behind. There was the top again, only a smidge closer. I picked up momentum. Push forward. Keep moving. Focus on the trail in front of you and not the peak forever away.

God’s Word came to me. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This was the reason I struggled up the mountain. This hike was symbolic of my walk with Him.

My stomach growled from hunger. My tongue begged for more water. Another rock outcropping then a path led to the edge of the mountain. I stood surrounded by eight kids, my husband, and sister. Just to our left was the elusive finish line.

“There it is. We can do this. Let’s go. Can’t you see it there?” I said. They all looked with doubt yet moved forward.

We climbed and pushed through the rocks, slid down fissures, and pulled each other over bulges in the mountain. Some fell behind again, and I pulled them forward.

At last, my feet landed on the peak. I stared. The beauty of God’s world so high on a mountain brought a different kind of tears. We’d made it. Through travail and pain, pushing over rocks I never thought I could climb, we’d arrived. But, what was bigger than the victory of this trip was the lesson I’d take back with me. God wanted me to see that my walk through becoming a writer may be wrought with unbelievably hard work and frustration like the long trail up Old Rag Mountain, but in the end He’d bring me to the top of the mountain he wanted me to climb, with the exact amount of sustenance I needed. And, I wouldn’t be alone.

 

Writer of Killer Romance and Encourager to Fellow Christians