Creativity and a Sense of Place

  Creativity and a Sense of Place workshop


As part of the Literally Salem Festival, I led a workshop for writers on Saturday exploring the ways in which a sense of place and creativity intersect. We looked at several aspects of this pairing: where you write, where you live, places you know, and places that live in your imagination. It was great to have so many people participate and share their experiences of writing and location.

For one exercise, I gave out a handout designed to spark the creative process. You can get a copy by clicking here Worksheet handout PDF.

Will the Real Brunonia Barry Please Lie Down?


My first wake-up call from my muse always comes at 3 AM. It doesn't matter what time zone I'm in, the muse makes the adjustment far more easily than I. It's never 2:55 or 3:01. It's 3 AM to the minute. My muse is precise if tricky. By the time I reach for my pen and notebook, whatever she had to say has usually evaporated and I am left with half-sentence scribblings in my notebook that are impossible to decipher in the morning. To the best of my abilities as translator, last night's scrawls say something about vacuum repair and blueberry scones.


Since I am always wide awake after my muse makes her nightly call, I have taken to meditating during that time. Eventually I begin to doze again, dreaming  of vacations and uninterrupted sleep and writing “The End” on a finished manuscript.

At 7AM, I begin my morning ritual which includes several stanzas of a poem entitled: “123 get up!”  It usually works by about 7:45 which gives me exactly fifteen minutes to brew my coffee and make my morning commute four doors down the hallway to my office.

And then I sit and wait for my muse to arrive.  Night traveler that she is,  she often keeps me waiting for quite a while.  She usually wanders in at about ten, walking like a bride, and sits on the arm of my chair, and, for a few precious hours, dictates to me as if I’m her personal stenographer, then disappears as quickly as she came, leaving me to interpret the morning’s ramblings, which are at least typed and therefore have less to do with vacuums and scones and seem to apply (at least in part) to my current writing project.