Eight Great Sources of Creative Stimulation

In the past year, I’ve written five books — three novels, a memoir and a book about self-care. One of the things I’ve observed is that I need lots of creative stimulation to keep producing at this level. In fact, such stimulation lights me up. Yes, okay, meditation, walks in the woods, drinking water and all of that is just great … and … sometimes you just need to see a CRAZY great movie, am I right?

So it occurred to me that sharing some of the things that have made my brain, heart and soul purr might be fun for you, too. Here’s my list of Eight Great Sources of Creative Stimulation.

1. Recovery Meetings. As a daughter of an alcoholic mother, I’ve been around 12 Step recovery work for many years now. The heart in these meetings is full, the people share honestly and openly, and I’m always getting inspired. In fact, I keep a notebook loaded with ideas for non-fiction blog posts. Sometimes, I even get ideas for my characters in these meetings as well.

It’s not that I take people’s stories that I hear — not at all. Rather, my heart gets opened, and I hear my own stories bubble up. It’s a beautiful process.

2. The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand. I loved this book so much after I found it at the local library that I read it aloud to my wife — every last page of it. And we hung on every twist and turn of this romance author’s first suspense novel. Really well crafted, fun, page turning excellence. I highly recommend.

3. Can You Ever Forgive Me? If you haven’t seen this hilarious, unexpected, original film … well, go see it. It tells the story of ghostwriter Lee Israel’s foray into faking celebrity correspondance from the 30’s and 40’s. She turned out to be brilliant at faking the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. It’s simply brilliant. Kept me humming for days.

4. One Voice, the Story of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. When I saw just this trailer, I knew I had to incorporate this choir into my books — and my life. It’s a joy stream that’s simply unparalleled. And one of the happiest things about living in Oakland for me. Take a look at this trailer and documentary, now streaming on all video services. It’s the real thing when it comes to innovation, unity and pure creative mojo to the max! Full disclosure: I am a member of the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir … and lovin’ it!

5. Snap Judgement. This little Oakland produced podcast has risen through podcast ranks to become one of the most popular on public radio. As Glynn Washington, host and creator, puts it, it’s ‘storytelling with a beat.’ You can hear the most extraordinary tales. I’m still thinking about the cop who committed a crime, jumped bail, and lived in the woods for an amazing 22 years. Listen to this episode, aptly titled Cop Out.

6. Spotify’s Sweater Weather Playlist. I love a lot of Spotify playlists, actually, but this is one of the ones I love writing to. It is so well named — and its grooves are so gentle, yet evocative. Writing to music like this makes my day, and my work, go so much better. If you don’t know it, Spotify is the ultimate streaming music service. You can pick up playlists custom suited to you, or any song, genre, album, artist —anything — you can think of to play on demand all the time.

7. The Alchemist audiobook. Nothing compares with the tender, wise, constantly unexpected — really edge of the seat story— that is The Alchemist. Millions of copies have been sold of this book, and the audiobook is a fantastic way to engage with its power.

I absolutely loved loved LOVED it! Especially great for a long car drive, or a restless sleepless night.

8. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Say what you will about New Yorkers, but NOTHING is as fun, delightful or well made as this series about a comedienne rising up in the male world of comedy in the 50’s. We watched it on Amazon Prime and basically laughed until we cried. And then had to keep talking about it at dinner parties and anywhere else we could. What a triumph! Winner of Golden Globes galore!

BONUS: Paris. What can I say? I’ve been lucky enough to visit eight times in my life, and I’ve replayed so many of those scenes again and again and again. And I’ve taken so many photos, and written so many essays — and even a novel. I just love that crazy town … every last crumb of every croissant. Life is just one long glass of perfectly chilled white wine, sipped while watching lovers walk hand in hand under the marronniers along the Seine. Bliss ….

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Suzanne FalterComment