Pay attention to your surroundings. It’s not always easy these days especially with the distractions of mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices. As a writer, I often need to find those quiet moments and special places for writing, such as a library, a park, or my home office, but sometimes I need to write on the fly wherever I can. That’s why I began to bring along a small journal or notepad for jotting down ideas. It also helps to be aware of your surroundings because they can inspire ideas too.
Recently while enjoying a morning walk in a park in my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey, I forgot to notice those wonderful sounds like birds singing, the gurgle of the brooks, and the topple of the water over the falls in Kingsland Park. Shaking me out of my daydream was the sounds in a nearby treetop. I thought either squirrels on a mad chase or a raccoon shimmering down the trunk caused the sound, but to my astonishment a few feet ahead of me came a loud crash and a huge branch fell. My heart raced at the sight and the realization that I could have been struck by the branch. A fellow traveler in the wooded area noticed this too, and we both thanked the heavens that we’d been spared. It also woke me up to the necessity to pay more attention to my surrounding. Indeed it could be a matter of life or death!
The sights, the sounds, and the feelings of my surroundings have inspired me in my writing of settings for my books. Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, New Jersey are the settings for my two young adult books, A Dance Out of Time and A Kiss Out of Time. Although I haven’t been on the pioneer trail to Oregon, the setting for my western historical romance, Wildflowers, I have visited several western and mid-western states including Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Taking photographs, enjoying visits to local museums and art galleries, and writing in journals has helped me to capture my ideas about those surroundings.
I heard long ago that to be a writer means to be an observer. I believe that it’s true. It can also save your life!