I went to a writer’s workshop last night and one of the people there asked what inspires us to write. Like most writers/artists, there’s no routine to how I gain inspiration. That’d be pretty boring, no? Lots and lots of things/people inspire me, but when I really thought about what inspires my writing (fiction anyway), subways and dreams seem to top the list.
One of the first things that comes to mind when people think of New York City is the subway. At over 100 years old and teeming with the city’s most talented, annoying, rich, poor, stylish and stinking inhabitants , NYC’s subway system is a great place to observe real New Yorkers.
Like anyone who has been living in New York for a while, I have a million subway stories. Some will make you never touch anything on the subway ever again in life, some are moving and some are gut busting funny. The common thread is that all of those stories stuck in my head. They were memorable because they said something true and striking about the human experience. Sometimes I hear a piece of a conversation on the subway and of course since it’s the subway, I don’t know the full context of what was said, but maybe that little thing I heard inspires me to add a layer to a character or provides the seed for a short story. The NYC subway offers some of the best people-watching in the world.
As far as dreams, I have extraordinarily vivid dreams which are often inhabited by random people from my past and characters I’ve invented. I keep a pen and paper and a booklight by my bed so that I can capture all those REM sleep inspirations before they disappear with the dawn of a new day.
I really like going to this writer’s workshop, even when I don’t have anything new to share. It makes me feel accountable. I can’t call myself a writer and go to a writer’s workshop if I’m not putting words on the paper/screen. Can’t let the last byline get too old.
Anywho, for the creative types out there, do you have tried and true sources of inspiration?