Veronica Cline Barton
Take Those Daily Field Trips to Inspire and Expand Your Almost Royal Writing Mind
Just as your body needs food and water daily to keep running, I think it’s just as important to take time to feed your mind. Meditation, prayer, motivational readings—are great ways to get the mind in focus on who you are and where you want to be, prioritize what’s important, and opening it to new ideas and interesting new things to try. As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, settings, and happenings that can refuel my writing mind. It’s a challenge to come up with fresh ideas and transforming them into your storylines. You don’t have to take grandiose trips to get those fresh ideas either, you’d be surprised what you can find in your own little neck of the woods. Here are some of the daily field trips I find that refuel and reinvigorate my writer idea cache.
Take a drive. I live in southern California where cars rule and traffic is bumper to bumper, making for a less than ideal driving experience. I’ve made a point of finding roads off the beaten path, where I can put the top down on my convertible and enjoy the breeze against my face as I drive a winding road. I turn on my favorite music and enjoy the views. It’s amazing what you can see and hear and smell when you take a relaxed drive—a glimpse of a cabin roof nestled deep in the woods, the sound of waterfall you never knew existed, the scents of beautiful wild flowers, magnificent starry skies…the list is endless and gives me fresh ideas and new perspectives every time.
Window shop. I love the French phrase, aller faire du léche-vitrine, to go window shopping/lick the windows 🙂 I love to find whimsical stores filled with unique treasures—pottery, old jewelry, anything fringe. I take pictures in my mind, thinking of scenes where I could use the charming trinkets. Character Gemma always loves it when I go shopping, giving me mental nudges to include a new ring or a fringed belt to her fabulous wardrobe. I love to look at store displays, they give me inspiration and decorating tips for the settings in my books–the placement of books, the flower arrangements, the sparkle of a chandelier—I make mental design notes for my next cozy mystery room. Warning–this field trip could be expensive 😉
Eat at a new restaurant. I love incorporating meals in my scenes and what better inspiration that the tastes and smells of a new foodie find! I love exploring new restaurants and cuisines, we sometimes get into a food rut, going to the same places and eating the same dishes again and again. Variety is the spice of life so it is said, and I believe it to be especially true for the foods we eat. Who knows what new spice, or aroma, or food presentation will trigger that new sentence?
Take a spa day. I don’t think there’s anything better than a day of pampering to get the mind juices flowing. Get that warm stone massage, invigorating facial, or mani/pedi—your body will thank you. It amazes me every time how much better I feel, more focused, recharged, and ready to write.
Go see a local play. I’m lucky to have several small theater groups nearby, and to me there’s nothing better than watching a live play. I’m amazed at the local talent—we have some amazing, gifted, inspiring actors all around us, not just the Hollywood movie stars. I particularly love seeing plays at local high schools and colleges too, young talent giving amazing results. Plays give me a chance to imagine and visualize how a scene would happen in my books. Is the sofa too close to the bookcase? Where do the actors place their cocktails down when they are in dialog? Simple things, but amazing visualization inspiration. Ma-ma would approve 🙂
Have a picnic. The weather is amazing now (at least it is here in California, I know some of my mid-west and east coast friends are still having some winter chills). Go to a local park, spread down a blanket, and feast on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Watch the children play around you, the dogs chasing butterflies. Better yet, bring along all those magazines you haven’t had a chance to read at home. whether it’s 30 minutes or 2 hours, your mind will thank you.
Listen to a lecture. I happen to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) which meets the second Saturday of the month. They always have great lectures as part of the meeting, I learn something new every time, great to file away and use when you least expect it. Find a group that discusses the topics that interest you and show up—you just never know what might light the fire in your mind.
Sometimes the inspiration comes from right out your backdoor. Today a hummingbird whizzed by, stopping momentarily to look down at me as I soaked in the hot tub. We stared at each other just for a second, and right before it ignited its rapid launch to another neighbor’s world, it smiled. Was it my imagination? I don’t think so 🙂
I hope I’ve given you some mind food for thought today. Minds need to be exposed in order to learn, and for a writer, it’s a never ending mind quest. What is your favorite thing to do for a mental refresh?
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Featured picture today is the coast of Malibu. I was driving and stopped at a turnout on PCH. I was amazed at the view and was able to snap this picture. There are a ton of words that flow when I look at this picture, remembering the shot. Gemma would approve 🙂