As someone who has lived the majority of her life in one city (majority = all but two weeks), I’ve always counted on my imagination to create stuff for my stories. Now that I’ve actually moved hundreds of kilometers away from my former home, I’m hoping to get some new creative flow from the different environment.
I think I’ve mentioned it before but my surroundings inspire me, even when they’re just a blur, like on a train. Moving through the country on a train several times a month is tiresome (especially since each one-way trip lasts around six hours) but in some way I also find it peaceful. These days it’s quite dark outside so a part of the journey is like flying through space, just blackness all around, except for the occasional twinkling star – or a street lamp, whichever. It gives me time to think. But I’m still glad I don’t have to do it so often now that I’ve moved.
Anyway. While I search for inspiration from around me, writing itself also inspires me. It gives me an opportunity to experience different worlds and adventures, let’s me see places and people I would never encounter in real life, which makes me think of new stuff. And that gets me writing again.
Writing a story is a journey. My stories have very different journeys but they all start from somewhere and end up somewhere. A start can be a character, a place, a scene, a mood… Starts are easy. Now don’t get me wrong. The actual writing of the first chapter, the beginning, can be extremely hard. But the start of the journey comes almost naturally. Sometimes the stories go astray and end without crossing the actual finish line, but the idea exists nevertheless.
After the initial idea, I need to figure out the first stop. It always depends on the starting point but in the very least I need three things: characters, mood and the point. By ‘the point’ I mean something that’s going to happen or is happening, but it doesn’t have to be big. The point can be someone coming home after a vacation, someone having a nightmare, an earthquake in the city, or life in a war zone. Big or small, whatever gets me writing. Then comes the second stop and then the third and so on.
I have to say that out of everything I’ve written, my favorites are short stories that focus on emotions. For planning these types of stories the long, quiet train trips are great because I can just sit back and wonder about the characters, their thoughts and feelings. Like I said in a previous post, I easily start caring about characters and they can make a deep impact on me, so I like to delve into their minds and try to make sense out of them.
To inspire me more, I bought a new notebook as a Christmas present for myself. It’s pretty so here, have a picture:
I’ve been to Paris a few times and I love blue, so I couldn’t just leave it in the shelf. I’m going to be sitting on trains a bit during the holidays again, but maybe I’ll get something written.
Do you find traveling a good time to plan or write stories? Or do you prefer to read on trips and then write somewhere more steady?