So many things can impact our creativity—how we feel, what we eat, time of day, how much we’ve slept, outside worries. But one major component of creativity is place. Where we write. How does where we write influence what we write?
I’ve often read advice that we should have a specific place where we write. Perhaps an office, a local coffee shop, the library, or even a spot in our home. I’ve even heard that if you write on your sofa (as I do) you should write at one end and watch TV, etc., from the other. The idea behind all this advice is that having a dedicated writing space triggers your creativity because it trains your brain to write when you are in that spot.
This week I had a much larger change of place than the opposite end of my sofa. I spent some of the week in North Carolina, in a small rural town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the years, I have noticed that this change of place triggers a change in mindset for me almost every time. For some reason, genealogy obsesses me when in North Carolina.
Now, it doesn’t take much to get me chasing down rabbit holes for genealogy. But for some reason, the past feels much closer to me while I am there. Perhaps it is because the town often feels like it is from a bygone era, and the surrounding mountains have a timeless quality. The many farms could be from a hundred years ago, and the pace of life is slower. Not everyone knows everyone, but the community is close knit. In the way of rural communities, many earlier generations had more than the 2.5 kids families have now, so kin networks sprawl across the land. The past is still very present here.
Maybe part of the mindset shift is because we come here specifically to visit family, so family is very much top-of-mind. Whatever the reason, it ramps up my genealogy obsession and I want to chase ghosts for hours.
This got me wondering what kind of stories I would write if I lived there. Would I still write fantasy and science fiction? Or would I be drawn to family dramas and small-town conflicts? What stories I would write if I lived on Chincoteague Island, as I did for 8 months one year? Would I be writing stories of wind and sea and sky?
Your location undoubtedly influences your writing, from topics to characters to theme. While a temporary relocation may not fundamentally alter what or how you write, a change of place can shake up your creativity and dig you out of a funk, break a writer’s block, or give you a new perspective on some element of your story.
Do you have a specific place you write? Have you found your creativity influenced when you have a change of place?