Environmental Inspiration

Photo of Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, CA. Lifted from Flickr (click to see the picture in full size).

While on a business trip a few months ago in Monterey, California, (see the picture of how nice it is there) I felt inspired to write.  I was away from everyday life, in an environment that was calm and beautiful.  Monterey Bay is quiet, has some great places to walk or even sit and read or write.  It provided me with the conditions to feel motivated and inspired.

Isn’t that what we’re all after as writers?  I find that getting inspired to actually do the writing is the hardest part of writing.  Sitting my butt down in a chair, behind a boring computer screen, and putting words down is a challenge for me.  It’s not writer’s block, it’s just motivation, but writer’s block can result from lack of motivation.  The less I write, the more stunted I feel.

I live in a place where green is mostly artificial–the primary color, everywhere, is brown; it’s the desert.  I’m not writing about Tatooine, so the environment I live in on a daily basis doesn’t really relax or inspire me.  Disconnecting, on a business trip to a place like Monterey, extracts me from the ugly and the routine and frees my mind.  It is one of those places that unlocks my creative powers.

Last night, after the kids were in bed, and since my wife was on a phone call, I decided to conduct a little experiment.  It was later in the evening, right at sunset when the day was cooling off.  I opened a window and dragged a recliner over near it.  I sat down, and enjoyed some wine while feeling the cool breeze coming in through it.  Note: I don’t have a porch or a patio where I can sit outside at my house.  The red zinfandel tasted like relaxation, and I felt my mind start to release its tension.  Creative thought followed and I enjoyed about forty-five minutes of great brain storming.

I didn’t do any actual writing, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve discovered that organizing and reorganizing notes becomes tedious and crippling to my creative process, so keeping the thoughts and ideas in my mind gives me greater freedom to construct, tear down, and modify the world, characters and story line.  Occasionally I have those things that I must write down so I won’t forget, but most times, I’m just working out details and resolving plot holes.

I was surprised to find that kind of satisfaction in my normal environment.  In Monterey or by a window in my house, I managed to find the ingredients to get creative.  In this case, I substituted basil (Monterey) for oregano (open window and comfy recliner) in the recipe, but it still worked.  In a few days, I’m going on vacation to get away from work and enjoy time spent with my family.  I’m hoping that I can find that release when we’re out there and I’m really hoping that I find more time to write.

So, I’m curious about you.  Do you have a place that gets the creativity going?  Is it a particular place or are there elements like the open window that you can reconstruct that would work anywhere?  Comment and let me know!


Losing Your Work

Two years ago, my laptop computer died.  On it was all my notes, outline, character profiles, histories, magic system blueprints, and the main body of my book.  I wasn’t worried, though.  I had backed everything up to an external hard drive religiously.  I just went and pulled that 500 gig drive off the shelf and hooked it up.

As fate would have it, I found out that day that my hard drive was bad too.  Nothing I did could revive it and I left without the work I’d spent years building.

It was a serious blow to my morale.  I didn’t recover for over a year.  Finally, I realized that it could be interpreted as an opportunity rather than the death to my writing career.  How’s that?

I’d spent years building something that was never quite right.  Any time there was a need to change it, it would have this butterfly effect, causing the need for revision throughout my entire infrastructure.  With all that gone, I could focus instead on writing the book, relying on my memory for the details.  This was useful because when a change was needed, I could just modify my thinking and it would populate throughout my mind–self-populating information.

I started to get back into writing and began loving it again.

Tonight, I went to open my book and pick up where I’d left off, but the document that opened was missing all of yesterday’s edits and additions.  The discouragement came back and I threw up my hands.

I use box.com as my cloud-based backup system now.  It provides me with the ability to edit in the cloud, saving my work to the internet for me so I don’t have to go through the pain of backing it up every time I close my computer.  It’s worked flawlessly for months, but today I learned that there must be some flaw.

Instead of giving in to my discouragement, I decided to write a post here–a blog I’d forgotten about until today.  I found this again when I went to comment on Aaron Gansky’s blog.  It recognized my email address as a registered account and here it was.

I’ll continue working on this book, but man, technology is sure a big let down.  Have you had any experiences like this?

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