Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?

The other day a friend asked me where I write.

"In bed..." I said sheepishly.
"WHAT?!" She was astounded. I tried to qualify my answer.
"Not, like, under the covers or anything -- just, on the bed itself."

"But...why?" she asked.

And I told her the truth - "Because that's where the magic happens."

(Get your minds out of the gutter -- not THAT magic.)

My bedroom has three windows, two facing northeast and one facing north. At most times of the day, I have significant natural light. That light, for whatever reason, energizes me. That light inspires me to write. I've tried writing at a desk, the dining room table, my living room -- but in my bedroom, on my bed, facing those windows, I'm like the author equivalent of a solar panel. I'm recharged.
However, there are rainy days. There are nights. There are times when even the perfect natural light can't spark a single sentence. On those days, I have a few things I turn to that work wonders for my writing.

1. Other YA books I admire. I am a re-reader. Some people are, some people aren't. I have always been this way, ever since I read and fell in love with Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth. I adored the book. My copy, probably 20 years old now, is so worn and water warped (from being dropped in the bathtub) that it's sort of silly that I haven't bought another. As an adult and as a YA writer, I have other books I turn to -- Teach Me by RA Nelson, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher...the list could go on.

2. Poetry. I started out my writing life as a poet -- my MFA is in poetry and it is, in all ways, my first true form of expression. Sometimes, when I need to tap into emotions I can't access in my writing, I turn to some of my favorite poets to inspire my words -- Shara McCallum, Kim Addonizio, Stephen Dobyns, Li-Young Lee, and others. In fact, Li-Young Lee gave me my absolute favorite book autograph of all time:
City to City, Interior to Interior, My heart to yours. Li-Young Lee.
 How much does that rock???

3. Cooking. It's what I create when I can't create words. I'm actually more of a baker than anything else, which is funny since I am far from exacting and not exactly science-inclined. But baking soothes me. It can be something easy, like boxed brownies, or something more complex, like the four-layer German Chocolate Cake with Pecan-Coconut Filling I made last week. Baking allows me to refuel and still feel a sense of accomplishment.

How about you? How do you get inspired?


  1. I love writing in bed too :) And baking is a great idea - then, even if it doesn't do the inspiration trick, at least you've got something delicious to munch on!!

    1. Yes -- however, I warn you that baking + bed = weight gain. Some other people have mentioned jogging, which is something I should probably integrate into my writing life!

  2. Mmm, baking... I should do that more often... :) Also, that book autograph quote is great! What would your autograph quote be if you were doing a signing? :)

    1. Ellen, I have been thinking about the answer to that question FOREVER -- I think it would make a great Road Trip Wednesday question, too! Sadly, I don't have an answer. Yet. :)

  3. Cooking? Hmmm...might have to give that a whirl. :) I find reading other YA to be very helpful and inspiring when I'm working on something, especially if what I'm reading is in the same genre.

  4. I have occasionally had cause to write on the bed (i.e., take my laptop to the bedroom and park my behind on the mattress while I write--we're not talking 2-year-old with a Sharpie on white sheets here), but I don't like to. It's not a comfortable position to be in for that long, especially not for my old bones. However, slip me between the covers with my head on a soft pillow, and that's where inspiration most often comes. :)

  5. I cannot do anything in my bed without falling asleep. I'm glad you could stay focus.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love baking too! It's my non-verbal way to create (other than playing the piano). Plus, the results are always delicious.
    Natural light is so important! My writing desk is right in front of a window and I love it. So I don't blame you for writing in your bed. :)

  7. So, wait. Is that picture your bedroom? I am in my bed right now (ha) and I should take a picture so you could see what a cluttered disaster my bedroom is. We recently cleaned out the kids' closets - everything we "stored" in there when we were first married, and I haven't found homes for any of it yet. Plus all the clothes they've outgrown and I haven't taken to the consignment shop yet. Plus three boxes of books from my childhood. No magic here! :)

    Just bought The Phantom Tollbooth for my son. Can't wait for him to read it.

    I am also a re-reader. For sure. Thanks for sharing this!