Where do you get your ideas? It’s a question that writers are asked frequently. It’s a question that I used to ask frequently, before I learned through experience and self-discipline that the more I forced myself to sit my butt in a chair in front of a computer and not move, the more the muse tended to show up.
However, I recognize that there are times in my writing life when I feel more inspired than others, times when ideas flow more easily. And in my experience, I have found that inspiration is often directly linked to place, to where I write. I still do a fair amount of writing within the walls of my one bedroom apartment, but I am fortunate that the city where I live and the rather unconventional life that I lead here affords me an abundance of both ordinary and extraordinary places in which to put pen to paper.
The piece below is my inaugural entry in a new series about the places where I feel the most creative. I hope it inspires you. And if you’re so inclined, please share your favorite places to write in the comments below or on social media (Find me on Instagram @extradrymartini or on Twitter @drymartinigirl), by using the hash tags #extradrymartini and #whereiwrite.
The Dressing Room
It’s a Wednesday morning in June and I’m out the door at 6:30 in order to make a 7:30 AM call time. It shouldn’t take an hour to get across town this early in the morning, but you never know in this city so I give it an hour just in case. It’s a week before the summer solstice, and the sun is already up when I shift my car into drive.
The city is still waking, not yet pulsing with the frenetic activity that’s on its way. As I wind my way through the streets, the traffic flows so easily that it feels like I’m getting away with something. Even the red lights seem to magically shift to green as my car approaches them. I take Pico to Crescent Heights to Olympic to Fairfax to 6th to Hauser to 3rd to Beverly to Western to Hollywood to Prospect. With each left and right, I feel bits of sentences stir within me. I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg gets his ideas while merging onto the freeway, and I get that. There’s something about navigating traffic that sharpens your focus. Or maybe it’s just the irony that ideas seem to come when you’re unable to write them down.
I show my ID at the gate and drive onto the lot. I check in with the stage manager, collect my scrubs from wardrobe and enter the familiar dressing room. Two brown sofas sit elbow to elbow, each adorned with a pair of mismatching pillows, one red with an orange geometric pattern, one apologetically 80’s with an oversized floral motif stretched out across its blue satin canvas. I stash my things in a locker and sit down in a squeaky brown office chair across from the mirror. As I sip my coffee, I put on makeup, brush my hair, and get into wardrobe. The stage manager’s voice over the intercom cuts through the quiet: “Half hour til item one,” she says.
I have some time. I could go to the green room for more coffee, to watch the news, to chat with other actors. But it’s quiet here and because I’m in the basement I can’t get a Wi-Fi signal. Perfect, just me and my thoughts. I pull out a black composition book, its front cover emblazoned with the words Now is the Right Time. I look up, briefly contemplate my reflection in the enormous mirror across from me, and then, begin to write.
Love this post. I’ve recently started writing in my local library and am now thinking of making this a “thing” and trying a writing tour of all of my local libraries. So I haven’t yet written about the places I feel most creative in but I have previously written about the clothes I feel most creative in – a bit of tenuous link but do have a look if you are interested: https://karenelizabethmiller.com/2015/07/26/wardrobe-essential-a-good-pair-of-writing-trainers/. Thank you again for a great post. Love your style 🙂
I love the library tour idea! I’m going to check out my local library as a new writing spot too – thanks for the idea. And I enjoyed your post – you’re right that what you wear on your feet makes a big difference!
Libraries are great writing spots. They are quiet, free and you are surrounded by the great works of other writers to inspire and spur you on! Thank you for taking a look at my post and good luck with your library tour 🙂
Very inspiring, I usually get most of my writing done outside of my apartment too. Haven’t found too many creative places yet, other than Starbucks (every writer’s inspiration point since the beginning of time), but am looking forward to seeing more of these posts and discovering some new places that are great for writing.
And it’s so funny that inspiration strikes you when you’re on the freeway! All freeways in Los Angeles inspire out of me is anxiety haha
Haha, yes Starbucks is always a good fall back! I’m going to try to post at least 1-2 of these a month, also because I’m seeking out new places that inspire me too! I’m anxious in L.A. traffic a lot of the time as well, but those rare traffic-free moments, like the early morning drive I wrote about it in this post – can be really magical. I also love L.A. during the holidays when everyone leaves town. Open freeways everywhere!
Love this! I write in the most unexpected places too! My best ideas come from running or after yoga class so I type thoughts on my note section of my phone!
Thank you! I agree, there’s something about exercise that gets inspiration flowing. I take notes on my phone too but I’m still such a pen to paper girl. I keep a tiny notebook in my purse and sometimes I’ll have to scribble things down when I’m at the gym before they leave my head. Keep at it!
Great post! I often sit outside our cabin in the woods and write while listening to the birds. My other favorite place is during a hike on our property. I’ll stop and write on a log surrounded by n
That sounds lovely Amy! I live in the heart of Los Angeles and I’m always craving time away in nature to clear my head. Though the city brings its own inspiration as well. 😉
Life experience inspires me and I write in my kitchen or sitting on my bed.
Me too! I have a breakfast nook/stand up writing desk in my kitchen with Dr. Seuss quotes hanging above it.
A decade back I would venture across town and enter an Italian espresso / café low playing ‘ classical music’ a gentle rain fell upon quiet evening streets’ a tall open beamed ceiling’ tall shelves with Italian hand painted glazed Italian dinnerware – bowls and plates’ Flower vases’. Displays of bottled wines for purchasing… A Glass case of the most delicious cakes and treats’ but most of all they made authentic Italian style espresso.
-I use to seat myself at a small round black table with tall backed wooden black painted chairs. It is a very tall wall of old vintage red bricks’ gray mortar set between many bricks’ of decades ago and from these bricks are hung huge Persian rugs’…
-However over time’ the tables were being occupied by Collage folks, and so I found writing there provided far too many daily distractions, and the atmosphere although calm and quiet was no longer allowing me to write. So I returned to Home’ to write, where and while my wife watched violent moves and shows, with murders and forensic autopsies / investigative dissections; and as well as Agatha Christie’s Poirot’; as well as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries.
-The visuals of so many episodes of NCIS were horrid and gory, and some scenes’ just F’ed me up’ to behold when I would glance upward’ nothing for this old soul to take in.
-As well to say’ I kept craving French Onion Soup’ warm Baguettes’ with brae’. Yet’ still I could not write’ and had to await until midnight and the witching hour while sipping from a tall hand potted cup kelm fired’ which I bought at the community organic and arts Market’ and fill it of Hot Jasmine tea’ spooned with sticky sweet blackberry blossom honey’ and thus I explore and write.
-Plus to add I am always’ listening to my vast library of music files’ with my noise cancelling Sennheiser Headphones. Seated upon a comfortable settee’ as Quality of life matters to me’ and that includes knowing good hearted people as friends and acquaintances’. I do not own a cell phone ‘. My watch is hand wound and was made in 1917.
What a picture you paint! That Italian cafe sounds magical. Perhaps it’s time to seek out a new sanctuary away from home?(though home sounds pretty good!)
Great idea, love this post!
There’s a cool, haunted old hotel in the sleepy mountain town I live in. Each room is decorated according to a unique theme with funky furniture and knick knacks from the local thrift shops. I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of renting out the Hemingway room for office space!
Ooh, Lauren you should! That sounds like a dream come true. Imagine the writing you could do there!