If there’s a place that has inspired you in the past — to write a specific story, or to revel in a great life experience, a place where you somehow feel free and most yourself, a place that you always come away from refreshed, better than you were before, then guess what?
Get the heck back there.
Maybe not forever, but at least for a visit from time to time. (Or even just in your mind’s eye, if the place is now inaccessible or in the past). Stay connected to the place that inspires you. However and whenever you can: go there.
For me, one of those places is Rhode Island, where my sister moved when she married my future brother in law, who grew up there. It was a change from San Diego, but for me it was a place of retreat when I visited and still is.
Besides spending quality time with my sister (and brother and nephews) at the fantastic farms, beaches, vineyards and local hangouts I love in Rhode Island, I also experienced two major playwriting mentor experiences while staying there — at Harvard and at Brown. I researched and wrote one of my most produced plays there (and ‘set’ it there). As a student, I wrote what would become my first published poem there, when I went for my sister’s wedding — looking at an old brick electricity plant and landscape so different from where I grew up in SoCal. It’s not my only “special place,” but it’s one of the biggies that has stood the test of time.
I recently returned to Rhode Island for meetings in the area, and it was refreshing, not only to see my family again and catch up on all sorts of things, including writing, but also to stop by the inspiring places that I’ve always loved, and to see some new ones. For some reason I’m always creative and prolific when I go there — Rhode Island always requires me to take a journal. And this time was no different. I got new ideas for both existing projects and for new projects altogether.
Whatever place prompts you to grab your journal, before going there, is a keeper place. Get there fast, and go back often.
If you find your writing is bolder when you’re there, go there. If you find the ideas flow more there, go there. And even when nothing comes, go there anyway — seeds might be getting planted for future fruit.
Virginia Woolf’s famous instruction that in order to write a woman must have, among other things, a room of her own, is absolutely true — to be creative we all need that ‘room,’ or at least that consistent place we can call our own: a den desk, an outdoor garden table, a comfy armchair, the southwest corner table of our neighborhood coffee shop — our place.
But I also think that in order to write we must also go places — log in some miles, hit some unexpected destinations and see how they affect us. Whether it’s down the street or on the other side of the world.
And when we find a place that ‘does’ something to us — a “Go There” that makes us “Go There” on paper — that compels us to write things down more boldly than we otherwise would, or share a new idea that embraces more risk or passion — we have to see that place as our oasis, our fountainhead, our creative recharging station. It’s not a vacation spot, necessarily, but our vision spot, the place where we see things a little more clearly, hear things a little more lucidly, feel things more deeply, and are able to articulate things more freely.
Go there. Go now.
And tell me about it sometime.
Where is your “vision spot”? Your “Go There” place?