I could really go for a cheese stick right about now.

I could really go for a cheese stick right about now.

As a "writer" you need a handful of things:

A cup of coffee or tea
A burst of confidence in your skills
Something to write about
Somewhere to write it

The first one is pretty easy to find, the second is just a waiting game, but the last two -- that's where it gets interesting.

Places you can write and places you can write about are similar but different: the first likely has a table and an espresso machine, while the second does not. That being said, they suffer from the same issue: unnecessary expiration dates. Inspirational places are like a favorite sweater or a teenage obsession. Inevitably and often quickly, their effect on you grows stale. They no longer feel beautiful and unique. They don't put you in "that place." They become something that "was nice while it lasted."

Only this time, your livelihood and your happiness are at stake. Your work becomes toilsome, your dreams become gnats to swat away from your head, and the pay was barely meager in the first place. 

Only this time, you can't get rid of them. It's the same cafe day in and day out. It's the same people, places, and stories swirling around you. It's wearing the same sweater every day and it's falling asleep to the same N*Sync poster every night. 

The 1st Half of the Challenge: Finding the Write Table

But once in a while – once in a while, you find a beautiful block of wood and it calls out your name; it's wood on the outside, sure, but it might as well be magnetic. It's nestled in a corner by a lanky window, the heater is to your side warming your feet, and you can watch the door out of the corner of your eye in case of any timely zombie attacks. It's just big enough that you can sprawl out your papers and your devices and the occasional plate of scones, but small enough so that you don't feel bad taking up the resident "party table." You end up sitting there so often that it practically smells like you, warning off other unknowing caffeine addicts from your turf. 

This is the challenge. This is what must be found. Stopping is not allowed until you sink into the accompanying chair. 

You'll know it when you feel it. Until then, never settle.

The 2nd Half of the Challenge: Finding Local Inspiration

This is where it gets tougher. Instead of having to scour local cafes, you're finding buried treasure that could be anywhere. You're both Lewis and Clark, hoping for a sign of life to literally write home about. But unlike early 19th century explorers, you have Google.

1. Where do you tend to see beauty? Graffitied murals? Dilapidated barns? Infinity pools? Azalea gardens? 
2. What calms you down? Walking side streets? Hiking local trails? Listening to live jazz?
3. What makes you feel alive? Pulsating crowds? A stranger's story? Gusts of wind-carried snow? The steam from a pot of boiling tea?

The answers to these questions are probably closer to you than you think. Luckily, because traveling the world isn't always an option (at least for some of us). And the beauty of it? These are places and things that give you ammo to write. Not only do they make you feel inspired, but they're worth writing about. They are your next story. 

...You'll know it when you feel it. Until then, never settle.