To be honest, I’m not an author who is particularly inspired by places. I normally write in the same place every day, an over-crowded desk, cluttered with books, pens and sweet wrappers – usually with the soft drone of Eighties music playing in the background.
I’m inspired by unusual things – a dirty, dilapidated building that I pass on the bus, a strange conversation in the newsagent, a teenager sulking past me – shouting down her phone, a discarded shoe in the gutter. The place doesn’t really matter. I write wherever and whenever I can – stealing moments and grabbing precious minutes.
I haven’t attended a writer’s retreat (though I do quite like the idea) and I haven’t got a special place to go when I need new ideas. My desk seems to work quite well, and my frazzled, full-up brain, always seems to be able to produce something. In the end.
But this all changed a few years ago. I’d had a difficult year. I’d suffered a very close bereavement and suddenly inspiration seemed to have left me. I felt like I was walking down a gloomy, barely lit tunnel. I struggled to think of exciting ideas, alone write them. I was worried things would never be the same.
Finally, exhausted and defeated I went on holiday – to the most beautiful cottage in Cornwall. It was remote, peaceful and unfamiliar. I laid myself out on the hammock, strung from the trees and could finally feel my body relax, my mind unwind – with it came images, disjointed scenes, words – as naturally as my breathing. As I watched my daughter squeal with laughter as she swung from the highest swing I’d ever seen – my motivation returned. I wanted to write, I had to.
I returned home, to my cluttered, filthy desk and wrote my next book. It flowed wonderfully.
I’d like to think that I was at a point in my writing career when I needed remoteness, stillness and calm. I needed something new and fresh.
I think its important now and again to change things up. Now I take inspiration from this experience and if I suffer from a dry spell again, I take myself some place else – like the lake near my house. I take time to enjoy the quiet, beautiful moments. I relax.
Because the truth is – your writing will never be fresh, if you’re not