Friday, July 19, 2013

Southern Speak - Where Do You Write?

by Lilliana Rose

Usually I control when and where I write which has developed over the years by sheer discipline and perseverance, and by simple trial and error. However, I have noticed that there are certain places which naturally inspire me to write, and when this happens it’s beyond my control. Sometimes the perfect place to write in finds you.

I naturally enjoy writing in cafes so when travelling I decided to use this to kick start my inspiration when in a new environment and to get me into the creative flow.

Cafe in Oslo
When in Oslo, inspired by Norse folklore and Viking history, I had no problems spilling out words on the page. The gnome-like creativity was strong and easy to tap into. I wrote down poems, short stories and solved a few problems I had with existing stories. Plus I ended up with a treasure trove of ideas, which I can further develop in the future. It was a productive two weeks, and I had time to see the sights before moving on to London.

At London I struggled to write (it didn’t help that the coffees were disgustingly bitter for my taste). I’d set myself the task of writing a poem a day this year and when in London I had to force these poems onto the page. Multi-cultural hub, fast pace, grunge vibe are facets I like to use as inspiration for my writing, but it just didn’t work for me in this particular place. I still wrote, but it didn’t have the magical flow like I experienced in Oslo; in London it was more of a chore.
A day trip to Stonehenge and Bath flipped things around. As soon as I glimpsed the British country landscape the portcullis was lifted and the creativity flowed strong in me once more. It made me realise how much a place influences my writing. During that day in the country-side a pagan goddess whispered in my ear for hours. If I had any doubt that the place provides a muse, the murmurings of the pagan English goddess went silent when I returned to London.

Later in the week, as the train pulled into Edinburgh I was haunted with a dark gothic muse, and I experienced a flood a creativity to make up for the previous week’s drought. The story ideas flooded onto the page, ideas which I captured in ink so that I could come back and expand on them later. Large dark gothic buildings, a castle, cobble streets, and a buried underground, was the place for me to capture landscapes, hear the hauntings of ghosts, and feel the vibrations of centuries of life that had gone before. The characters formed in my mind, the flow was fluid and ordered, dark and feminine, bloody and horrific. I loved it. I’ve packed a suitcase of this in my mind and bought it back home with me.

I had always focussed on space (table, chair, computer, coffee, music or silence) and discipline when writing – and these are important – but after writing when travelling I realised how influential a place can be. I’ve written on trams, at bus stops, in planes, at airports, at the bar, in bed, but this is the part of the disciplined side. I’ve now expanded my self-realisation on how I write when travelling – there are even more creative rivers out there for me to dip into and use. The place you write in can change, and it doesn’t have to be hidden away inside. I intend to keep looking for new places that fuel my creativity and to pack some of that inspiration away for later when I’m back home chained to the daily grind.

I’m curious to hear other peoples journeys related to what places have unexpectedly provided a source of inspiration. What countries or places have caught you by surprise and flooded you with unexpected creativity? Have there been places where you thought, no way can I write here, but then they’ve been a great source of creativity?


  1. Interesting post, Lilliana. My most productive writing time was while on a writing retreat where I sat on a window seat overlooking Sydney Harbour. I think it was the water view. I must try it again. :)

  2. Thanks Claire. The view over Sydney Harbour would be a great one for writing. Hope you get the chance to write with this as your view again :)


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