At first, I planned to show pictures of my office. But…that seemed boring. Then I thought people might be interested to know the places all over the world where I’ve written—from a sunny cabana porch in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka to a camel-view office in Doha, Qatar. The pictures would’ve been better :-). (Okay, so I used a pic anyway!)
But then I decided that May’s them is more about creative spaces rather than work spaces. And sometimes creative spaces aren’t spaces at all but rather a state of mind. So when the kids are screaming, the dishwasher is overflowing, and your mother-in-law is calling, how do you get to your happy place, to your creative state of mind?
Take a walk. No other people allowed. You can take the dog along if he’s relatively well behaved and isn’t a talking dog. You need space. Space to release your thoughts and let emptiness fill your brain. You’ll be surprised at some of the interesting tidbits that’ll pop up in that emptiness. Consider carrying your phone (DON’T check Facebook) to use your voice recording function.
Lay down. Yeah, I’m a fan of the nap as much as anyone, but I’m not advocating a three-hour jaunt. What you’re trying for here is something I call the Twilight Zone. It’s that hazy, wonderful place you hit just before you fall asleep and before you’re completely awake. I’ve reconfigured entire book concepts in this lovely place. Try the couch rather than your bed if you’re afraid of really conking out. And set an alarm for 20 minutes. Even if the Twilight Zone doesn’t bear fruit, you won’t sleep the afternoon away.
Grab your headphones. If you can spring for noise cancellation headphones, it’s a great investment. Smarty Boy (my 14 year old son) gave me a pair of Bose for Mother’s Day last year. They aren’t the uber-pricey kind, but they ARE a physical cue for other people not to disturb me when I’m in my creative groove.
Hang out with other writers. Not at a wild conference (although those have their place), but at a retreat or hotel or what-have-you. Take a long weekend—either planned or free-form—to hang with a handful of your best writing buds. No telling what will happen. This is how Nancy Naigle and I came up with The Granny Series (although in full disclosure, that did happen at a Romantic Times conference). I also get together with my writing posse—Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn and Theresa Stevens—once or twice a year. We have our next plotting session in June!
Grab a big roll or pad of paper. Get your markers, colored pencils, or crayons. Doodle, draw crazy pictures, or—my fav—make crazy mind-maps. I like the mind-map concept more than a list (although I do love a list) for creative thinking because it just seems less structured. And you can cram stuff in between other stuff. That makes me very happy. And it doesn’t have to be neat or numbered. Yes, you can do this on the computer, but I think mind-mapping by hand is way more effective.
These are just a few of the creative spaces I use to recharge my writer brain-juice. But I’d love some new ideas so share where you go and what you do when you need to amp up your creative output!