For about a week now I’ve been suffering from an extremely stupid case of writer’s block and hence have been working on six or seven drafts at the same time without even one turning out satisfactory. Somehow all my ideas right now prove to be too plain, too addleheaded, too personal or very hard to execute. The phrasing doesn’t flow well, it sounds either too complicated or not detailed enough and I can’t come up with a clear or coherent structure. Maybe I should go back to reading and skip the writing for a while. Or maybe start another attempt to not stay stuck on the other drafts but try something new. Again. So here are the best places to be targeted by inspiration.
1. College Library
The library at the faculty for history at LMU Munich is my favorite workplace when everything at home is once again annoying and distracting me. There’s always enough room to get comfortable, the surrounding book shelves give me hope to become educated by osmosis, the gigantic trees in front of the big windows make the place feel like a big treehouse and usually it’s also one of the rare locations on campus where there’s peace and quiet. Perfect for doing endless follow-up work on lectures or just procrastinating productively by letting your thoughts wander. If you’re lucky you’ll be inspired to write an article on the inner life of a library by all your fellow inmates hectically punching their bachelor thesis into their laptop or spending the entire day on Facebook. But there’ll more than enough time to ponder over that after winter break.
I can report from experience that just before bedtime the brain is often a lot more active than you would want it to be. This result is lying awake in the dark and having all these great ideas crossing your mind, so you hastily reach for your smartphone, almost knock over the bedside table lamp or even worse the glass of water sitting there, realize the phone is on your desk, scramble out of bed, instead of your phone find a piece of paper and after some struggling also a functioning pen. Finally you’re prepared to document the phenomenal products of your mind, but during your mission to find writing utensils your body decided it was time for bed, thus reducing cognitive function to a minimum and winding down the capacity of your memory, leaving you sitting in front of the desk completely desultory and confused. So much for bedtime inspiration.
3. Window Sill
In Munich my room has a big window with a window sill shaped perfectly for my height and just wonderful for sprawling out and relaxing. In the morning the sun will tickle your nose and you can marvel at the incredible sight of the ugly neighboring houses, the ugly highway or the dogs in the ugly park. And maybe you’ll be struck by some ideas suitable for publishing, like the perception that concrete is ugly. Or that lazy dog owners should start picking up their dogs’ poop so that the conscientious dog owners don’t have to listen to complaints and accusations by non-dog owners. Or that as a country girl one shouldn’t have moved to the middle of the Bavarian capitol.
The shower is a great place to have ideas. Right when you’re drenched in water and all soapy and even less able to dive for some paper and a pencil than when you’re in bed. But you’re (presumably, hopefully – I better not get into that any further) alone and can’t hear anything put the peaceful flow of water and the plastic noise it makes when it hits the shower curtain. Perfect time to be struck by a muse. That’s unless you’re still living at home and share a bathroom with three other family members, one of which is right in the middle of puberty and frantically vocalizing her right to the shower since personal hygiene has suddenly become top priority in the past few months. And right there I have my next article: Life with a pubescent human being and why she’s so much more worse than I ever was. Thank God I’m only home on weekends.
To conclude, inspiration always comes when you’re the least ready for it, while sleeping or showering or supposed to be doing other things. And definitely not when you’re slumped down in front of your laptop trying to come up with brilliant statements and phrasing, but are miles away from a pen or any other documentary tool. In this case, I guess I’ll be outside then. Maybe inspiration is sitting under a nearby tree, mocking me for trying to find it. Such a jerk.