Inspiration for Writers - Take It Outside

This is part of our series on inspiration for writers. You'll find links to more inspiring pages at the bottom.

Sometimes a change of scenery can energize your writing. Here are a few ideas to try:

1) Write on a train or a bus.

Have you ever tried writing on a train, inspired by the landscape rushing by, letting the rhythm of the wheels seep into your phrases?

Trains are author Alexander Chee's favorite place to write. And in response to his comments in an interview, the U.S. train company Amtrak has started offering free long-distance train rides to writers who want to work on their trains. You can find application details here.

Instead of a train trip, you can hop on a city bus. Stare out the window, and let the ideas flow.


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2) Write in a café, shopping center, park, or library.

In addition to a change of scenery, public places can offer great people-watching opportunities.

In a recent interview, the novelist Donna Tartt explained why she liked to write in the New York Public Library. "If you need a character, all you have to do is look up -- people walking back and forth. It's like being an artist, sketching in a sidewalk café. Walk-on characters, everybody you need, is right there."

3) Just pretend you're in a public place.

The website Coffivity.com offers recordings of café sounds -- murmuring voices, clinking coffee spoons, laughter -- that you can play on your computer (you have to pay if you want to download their apps, but you can listen from their website for free).

The website's founders claim that this type of ambient noise actually stimulates creativity. Give it a try!

Or if you prefer the sound of rain in the background, check out the website Rain.simplynoise.com.

4) Take a walk.

When the children's book author Linda Leopold Strauss hits a roadblock in her writing, she goes for a walk. She doesn't focus on the problem directly while she's walking, just keeps it in the back of her mind.

The physical movement and change of scenery relax her, and ideas start to come on their own. She uses a voice recorder on her cell phone to save the ideas.

When she gets back to her desk, she types up what she's recorded. Now she's unblocked, and writing again.

More inspiration for writers

Two easy ways to get story ideas

More tips for finding creative writing ideas

Five simple techniques to make your characters more interesting

Story starters

Poetry prompts


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