Poetry in Motion

Virginia Woolf said that to write, one must have a room of one’s own (Granted, she was referring solely to women, but I like to think of it as a unisex quote). I have a room of my own, but I often find that, to write, I need to leave the room.

I don’t know how many other writers find this, but there’s something about movement that gets the creative juices flowing. When I’m out walking, I find that I start to write in my head in a stream of consciousness way. I carry an MP3 player with me which has a microphone and a record function (or if I don’t have that, I just use my phone). It’s a very different way of writing. There’s no editing involved as there might be when I’m sitting at my PC. In that situation, I might tend to stop and look back over what I’ve written. I can’t do that when I’m walking. There’s no way of looking back over what I’ve written. I have to keep moving forward. There’s also little time for pausing. If I stop for too long, I’ll forget where I was. So, there’s no time to go off goggling how accurate my description of 16th century headgear is (only to wind up, two hours later, looking at Lady Gaga in a Philip Tracy hat).

But I’m lucky. This is where I go to walk when I want to write:

It’s a long stretch of beach so when the tide is out, you can really get a stride going, and that’s when I find the words will start to flow. If the tide is in, I like to sit on the rocks and listen to the sound of the waves as I dictate. One particular day, I was so enthralled by the sights and the sounds that I sat there for about an hour. In the end, I texted my wife – half-jokingly – to tell her she needed to come down and physically remove me from the beach.

Now, of course, all of this is not without its disadvantages. The most obvious being – “Why is that man talking to himself?” Okay, I’m not actually talking to myself, I’m talking into an MP3 player, but to some people this amounts to the same thing. But, as I said, it’s a long stretch of beach and if you walk down far enough, you can usually get away from the madding crowd. It looks like this:

(In the wintertime, when it’s dull and grey and there’s a mist hanging over the water, it looks like some kind of alien landscape.)

Imagine sitting in this exact location, no one around but birds, waves and serenity. I’ve heard many writers talk about the myriad of different ways they come about their inspiration. For me, all I need is this lonely stretch of beach and the sound of the ocean.

And my MP3 player.

(Oh, and the title is slightly misleading because I don’t write poetry. But it was the only clever thing I could think of. Sue me.)


28 thoughts on “Poetry in Motion

  1. I would’nt worry about the title – there is poetry in your music for sure. I love walking too, and getting that feeling of being away from it all-I found it a wonderful help when I was stuck in plot planning while writing the novel – I would bring my mobile phone with in and write notes in it. Once the brain is set free – it can do magical things. Keep walking!

  2. Beautiful pics!! I love this post. I felt relaxed and ready to write by time I was done reading it lol. Thats cool that you have a place to escape to – sometimes its good to get away from all of the commercial sounds – the people’s voices – and just listen to whats left 🙂 I dont have time to escape to the beach but for me its all about the desk. 😛 My desk in my room that faces out into trees. Love it 🙂

  3. I wish I lived closer to the beach. I “write” mostly in my head as I’m photographing different locations during my mountain and coastal adventures and then commit those thoughts to my “Blog Press” app on my iphone. That has been the best $2.99 I’ve spent on apps.

    I love the beach photos–who wouldn’t be inspired by it? Great post, and I’m now an official subscriber.

  4. Lovely post, Derek. Good for you finding a little piece of heaven (or alien landscape) – beautiful as it is – in which to find your creative self. I agree wholeheartedly that a walk is often the best way to do that. Soothes the sould and opens the subconscious! Write on!

  5. Yes! Some of my greatest inspiration unleashes itself during perambulating–or in the shower, strangely. Could water be the key ingredient? But I find I cannot speak the idea or even a thought about the idea aloud to myself or to anyone else, because when I do, the impetus to get it down on the page magically disappears. I have to hold it inside, pretend like I don’t know it, never met it, to let it spew forth and take me unawares while sitting at the keyboard. Yeah, okay, you can say it: she reallllly is a weird one. 🙂

  6. Oh, what a gorgeous place. You’re in Ireland, right? I’m sure I’d be freezing cold there any time of year, but, dude, I’d like to sit on that beach. I can almost smell the salt air and feel the stinging wind whipping my hair.

    I’m a big neatnik, so I do a lot of housecleaning. I try to direct my thoughts at the story I’m writing while I work. You’d be surprised at the number of plot problems I’ve worked out in this manner.

    However….the one place where I feel truly inspired is the Texas Hill Country. There’s something about those short trees, that big sky, and those endless rolling roads. My imagination just dances.

  7. My ideas are most prolific when I am washing and drying myself and dressing after the gym! I find that all so boring that my imagination takes flight and I’m afraid that one of these days all my inner dialogue will spill out into the changing room around me…

  8. What a great blog. Loved it. Definitely jealous of your fabulous beach. Inspiring. Brilliant to go there with your mp3. Perhaps best I can do is download your wonderful photos & put them in my office, pretending I’m there. Next time you are on your lovely, peaceful beach, please mentally send me some of that tranquilness. Best regards.

  9. Great post, Derek. I find water to be soothing and inspiring, too. And of all things, the best ideas come to me 1) when I’m fishing 2) when I’m cleaning house (mindless) or 3) I’m dreaming. So, a very mixed bag for me and my muse! LOL!

  10. What a beautiful, luminous beach and I loved the image above the words “It’s a long stretch of beach so when the tide is out, you can really get a stride going, and that’s when I find the words will start to flow.”

    I do have a quiet room of my own and try to write through on first drafts. I actually use a similar method to your MP3…I often dictate a draft using dragon software, then do a second pass.

  11. That’s a great idea! I usually get scenes running through my head while I walk and then I run home to jot stuff down… lol. I don’t really have one place that inspires, just a time. When everything is dark and shutoff at night and the only noise is the music I have on. That’s my inspire time. 🙂

  12. Oh yeah! Nothing inspires me to write more than nature! If I was kidless I could sit on a beach for hours to do just that. I can write just about anywhere, but for some reason trees tend to inspire me most of all. I prefer woodsy areas with big Oak trees and lots of green around. 🙂

  13. I remember when I went to Ireland, my teacher turned to me and said, “couldn’t you write here? Just buy a little house in the mountains (in the ring of Kerry) and just write.”

    I agree! I have to leave my room to write. Unfortunately the only other place I go is campus, so I write in class when I’m supposed to be listening to lectures!

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