“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
~Madeleine L’Engle

4 Tips to Find Your Thoughtful Spot and Get Inspired

Ever sit and stare at the page, unsure what to write? It happens to me at least once a week. You sit down to write and draw a complete blank.

Inspiration: 4 Tips to Find Your Thoughtful Spot and Get Inspired

Panic sets in. You worry, “Will I ever think of anything worth writing again?” Your mind screams, “Has the well run dry? Is the journey over? Woe is me; the world is coming to an end!”

When this happens, I take a deep breath and go to my Thoughtful Spot.

First, Find Your Thoughtful Spot

This is a trick I learned from Winnie the Pooh. His Thoughtful Spot was a log under a tree marked by a sign that read, “Pooh’s thotful spot.” It was the place where Pooh did his best thinking. It was where he got his inspiration when his well ran dry.

Winnie the Pooh Quotes

Many famous creatives have utilized Thoughtful Spots. For example, as a teen, I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I stopped and pondered each of his paintings, but I didn’t get them. To my immature eye, it all looked sloppy and vague. “Why is this guy so famous?” I thought to myself.

Then, I found a glass case that opened my eyes. In the display was Van Gogh’s small brown practice notebook. It was filled with amazing sketches of hands and faces and body parts. They were sharp, detailed, and precise.

Van Gogh’s Thoughtful Spot

The plaque explained that Van Gogh would go daily and sit by a fountain in the middle of town, his Thoughtful Spot, to sketch people as they walked by.

I looked back at his paintings around the room with new appreciation. He had the ability to paint like Rembrandt, but that was not the art that poured from his soul.

Each day he sat in his Thoughtful Spot watching people, sketched hands, and dreamed. Then he returned to his studio and chose to fill the canvas with extravagant beauty.

Where Is Your Thoughtful Spot?

My Thoughtful Spot is my front porch. I love going there to think and imagine. It’s ripe with inspiration, especially at night.

I live in a lower-middle class neighborhood in the middle of the inner city, so there is always something happening outside after dark. The drug dealers down the street chat loudly as they walk to the corner gas station to make their sales, challenging me to invent scenarios for them. People coming home from work unload at the bus stop and trudge down the sidewalk, inviting me to ponder what they have been up to all day. A drunk man stumbles from the bar two doors down and searches for his keys in the parking lot, begging me to tell the tale of where they were lost.

As all this goes on, I sit with my Moleskine and pen in hand, jotting down ideas.

I believe all writers need a Thoughtful Spot, just like Pooh and Van Gogh. We all need a place where we ponder and soak in the world around us.

4 Tips to Find Your Thoughtful Spot

If you haven’t found one, here are four suggestions for creating a great Thoughtful Spot.

1. Take the right tools. Do you write best on a laptop or a legal pad? Go into battle armed.

2. Look for a spot where you will be left alone. You need time and space where you can watch, but people won’t interrupt the conversation in your head.

3. Find a place that sparks your imagination. Your Thoughtful Spot should always be ripe and ready for harvest.

4. When you arrive, turn off your phone. It is a guarantee that electronic devil will ring right as inspiration begins to unload. Stop it before it can strike.

Your Thoughtful Spot Abounds in Inspiration

If you’re experiencing writer’s block, don’t despair! Instead, like Winnie the Pooh and Vincent Van Gogh, find your Thoughtful Spot and be inspired.

Where is your Thoughtful Spot? Let me know in the comments.


Head to your Thoughtful Spot and spend fifteen minutes soaking in the world. Take notes on what you see. Then come back and share the story you harvested with us in the comments. Don’t forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

About Jeff Elkins

Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."

  • Andre Cruz

    I like to head to the park to watch nature and people. Wait… that doesn’t sound right. Good article. http://www.andrecruz.net

  • Christine

    Like most people, I’m inspired by nature–and it’s all around me since we live in the country. But like Agatha Christie I do a lot of plotting and thought-gathering at the kitchen sink after supper, too.

    My bigger problem is to capture a few of those thought bubbles that float by me now and then. In the past so many of them have popped and gone forever that I bought a stack of post-it notes; when an idea comes I scribble it down and post the note by the computer.

  • Marilyn Ostermiller

    One thoughtful place I visit for inspiration is the electronic newspaper for “ripped from the headlines” story ideas. I get a daily aggregation of news stories from Goggle. I save the promising ones to mine for stories when it feels like the well has run dry. This one is a keeper because it puts me in mind of something Elmore Leonard would have written: http://www.businessinsider.com/horn-smuggling-operation-in-new-jersey-2013-12

    I mean, how perfect is it for the feds to have an informant sell two “raw” rhino horns to a smuggler’s middleman at the Vince Lombardi rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. That middleman then sells them to a New York City antiques dealer who sells them to a Chinese citizen, who eventually pleads guilty to being the ringleader of an international smuggling operation that trafficked in $4.5 million worth of rhinoceros horns and such. What a cast of characters I can create!

  • Ching

    Could being in a book (reading) be a thoughtful spot?

    • oddznns

      Certainly. If the book’s giving you ideas.

    • I was thinking my thoughtful spot is somewhere in the pages of Bradbury.

      • Missy

        Oh, yes. Or Steinbeck 🙂

  • My thoughtful spot is anywhere I happen to be. I can tune out voices and clattering dishes in a cafe, the music from the speakers, the television when at home. If I am at home the study where our computer is located is my thoughtful spot. I go there first in the morning for an hour or two again and again after dinner for another hour or two. When not at home I write in a notebook. For haiku I’d rather be outside, but not being able to do that always, I think outside to create my thoughtful spot.

  • Lisa Agosti

    great post! I definitely need to find my thoughtful spot ASAP! Summer would ease my task, as I look out and I can’t tell if it’s raining or snowing my will of going out there diminish by the minute. I look around my tiny flat… on one side, the half-deaf neighbor is calling the cat, on the other side the fridge and the TV are calling me… mmmhh… the washroom maybe? I wonder if some famous writer got their inspiration while sitting on the loo!

  • Joy Collado

    I think I still have to discover where my Thoughtful Spot is.

  • Michael Marsh

    I tried the food court of a large supermarket about 5 blocks from my house last week, but I usually don’t have time to travel and write. Sometimes I walk in the woods, but I am doing all my writing mentally while I am walking. When I get home I write what I thought about, usually poetry. I have a desk up stairs without a computer and distractions, but the cold is a big distraction up there right now. I might try it again in the spring. Now I just sit at my regular desk and fight distractions. I do need to find a better spot to let my mind wander into more creative spaces. I am always looking for a good spot to write.

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  • SK

    Traffic, often that is where thoughts and ideas come but obviously make it difficult to capture it on paper. That’s where the “electronic devil” as you put it comes in handy, voice memo! Very interesting post

    • kim

      My sentiments exactly , ”electronic devil ” thats a new one on me

  • oddznns

    Now I know where you get your stories from Jeff. You’re right about the thoughtful spot being somewhere you’re left alone. That’s really my sole criteria for a thoughtful spot – to be alone, either with eyes and ears open to the world, or with eyes closed and heart open to my own promptings.

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  • More of the Disney film quotes, which I loved

  • Justine McGrath

    Great post and one which gives pause for thought. I have what I thought were a few ‘thoughtful spots’ but I am now seeing they don’t fill all the criteria. Hmmm time to try another one!

    • Hopefully the post isn’t limiting your list, but growing and building. =)

      • Justine McGrath

        It is growing and building it for sure! Just good to be aware that perhaps it can be improved upon! Thanks.

  • Beverly Ann

    Love this article as it made me look inside and focus on the beauty of my thoughtful spot. Let me share my thoughtful spot with you.

    Monday, August 29, 2016 — My thoughtful spot lies in a cozy corner of my living room. What makes this corner so cozy is the overstuffed sofas that abut each other and border the large picture window that faces our street. Cream-colored sheer drapes mute the light that flows into the room. Each sofa is lined with puffy, textured and colorful pillows. The love seat (the smaller of the two sofas) is where our King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Bekah, lounges when I take up residence in my thoughtful spot. Bekah is my writing muse and the narrative voice in my children’s books. I love to prop a bunch of pillows at one end of the sofa that directly looks outward to the front yard and curbside.
    A beautiful rose garden sits right outside of my window. It is so calming to glance out and I can just get lost in the beauty of the bountiful rose blooms. The yellow, pink, red, and coral roses dance gracefully with every burst of wind. The rainbow quilt these blossoms create lifts my imagination and energy. The lush green grass carpet comforts my glance as it edges its way toward the curb and street. Children going or coming from school each day can be spied upon from the sheered draped window. Neighbors, walking their dogs, are also visible as well as the myriad of cars speeding up and down the street as they venture out into a busy day.
    A large coffee table sits in front of these sofas serving as wonderful space for my writing materials and a cup of tea or coffee. As the seasons change so does my coffee table space. I am well aware of how much colors and scents contribute to my creativity and motivation so I incorporate them into my thoughtful spot. I particularly love the autumn season with its vibrant colors and special scents. Creating holiday themed settings definitely helps me get into a writing mood.

    Background music and scented candles round up the coziness of my thoughtful place. Escaping to this cozy haven allows my creativity to flow. In the past, this is where I escape to with my crafting. Now, that I’ve embarked on my encore career as a children’s author, I find myself with my writing tablet and my idea notebook. If I’m not working on the rough draft of my next book, then I either studying writing resource books and articles or journaling in my idea notebook. This is also where I like to work on the book reviews I like to do that help me to hone my writing craft. Here is where I can sit and ponder and soak up the world around me. Here is where I can reflect and recall the various adventures that Bekah and I take part. Here is the wonder of the natural and historical places beacon us onto future adventures. But, best of all here is where the stories continue …
    Thanks for visiting with me in my cozy corner.

    • Fantastic description. I felt like I was there with you!

  • As I ponder my thoughtful place and where it might be, I realize I try to keep my thinking and my writing separate. I hope this does not mean my writing is thoughtless. But if I am writing, then I am hardly looking for inspiration at that moment.

    When I am not writing (whether due to writer’s block or simply the responsibilities of life) I am thinking. In that sense, my thoughtful place is wherever I find myself. There are always things to been seen, looked at, experienced, and even examined. Every common experience (and exotic one, too) is potential material for a book, short story, or article. Everyone I meet is my next hero – or villain! Or bits of them are. An expression. A mannerism. The sound of the voice or the turn of a phrase. The way they walk. The way they wear their hair. Their clothing. Scars, tattoos, and/or piercings.

    The protagonist of my WIP came to me in a dream, when the thoughts from my day were free to mingle in the cocktail party of slumber. She is part pop star, part superhero, part legend, and part song lyric. So perhaps my thoughtful place isn’t a place at all: it seems I do my best thinking in dreams.

  • Michael Panao

    Awesome post. That’s all I have to say 🙂

  • Lola Palooza

    My thoughtful spot isn’t a spot, so much as it is just an abstract. I get one hour a week to myself on a Monday after work. The phone is off, my daughter isn’t back from my mum’s yet, and I can just put everything down, think about nothing, and see what – or who – pops in there. I do have MS though, so I forget most of it before I put pen to paper.
    (I’m not totally without time by the way – I do get an hour a day on my lunch to read, so that’s better than a lot of people get.)

    • I love that you are persisting through the struggle. Thank you for sharing.

      • Lola Palooza

        I have to admit I’m having more breakthroughs since finding other like-minded souls on this website. I live in a small town where the most popular community hobby seems to be binge-drinking and falling over, so I don’t really meet other writers. Talking to the lovely people who visit this site is greasing the cogs I think. It’s definitely a lovely wake up call.
        Thank you for the reply.

  • Judith Houle

    Love this idea! I have some contenders, both for fair and foul weather. The next step is finding the time to sit and think – a challenge to do while I’m working full-time to pay the bills and writing is a part-time venture.

    • I think time is our most precious commodity as it is the only thing we can spend that we can never earn back.

  • Linda Mansfield

    I love to people-watch at the mall. I do a lot of writing on my (unfortunately) messy desk and in coffee shops and the library. “Inspiration,” however, strikes mostly when I’m in the shower. Weird, I know….

    • The shower is not weird at all. I get my best ideas in the car. I think it’s because it’s one of the few times I’m forced to sit and be alone.

  • It was a perfect moment to write when everyone was still sleeping and the only sound I could hear was that of the sound that my fingers and keyboard were producing. Could anyone help me to make this answer more descriptive? Thank you very much and thanks for this article. It made my day. 🙂

    • I can relate to this one. With five kids (ages 2-years-old to 13-years-old) my only time to write is late at night. When I write I can hear the hum of the baby monitor and the teenager snoring. The remnant of their activity is all around me – left over glasses half filled with water, the bin of toys sticking out from its home, the soccer cleats almost put away. Often these small things become sparks of inspiration for my stories.

  • Tina

    So much neighbor noise (and not the quiet, convivial kind) where I choose to work (at home… the walls are paper and the square footage is sparse) … can’t get to sleep at a reasonable hour either due to noise.

    However, a little tough love in order … much of the time, despite that … http://brookeallen.com/2014/10/16/how-to-write-if-you-cannot-concentrate/ … I do not do a whole lot better at a local Coffee & Crepe or Starbucks … too much [& expensive] sugar and caffeine available for my health … so, um … maybe replicating with a free loop: http://www.coffitivity.com/

    This solution is so city-dweller, and relatively unoriginal … but Walden Pond has nothing on this … add no phone and no TV and no radio to the mix …

  • Skryb

    Like Linda Mansfield, when I struggle in my writing, I take to the shower and, oddly enough, I find clarity and vision.

    It is a refreshing detox when my brain becomes overstimulated with the messiness of unused ideas, boring intel, and an overload of stupidity gleaned from too much world watching.

    I hit the reboot button and start again.


    In my world, where my days and nights are consumed with music, promotions, and marketing, the sands of time drain from the hourglass as though there were an unforgiving leak.


    But as unreachable as that insatiable drug is, I cannot help, but seize a moment and write. Or be gripped by random inspiration.

    It is everywhere. In everything.

    The problem is not my surroundings or the four tools I choose to bring to my thoughtful spot. The issue is me and my perspective. How can I change my perspective to make my writing experience better and to leave a better footprint on the place I last stepped?

    Time will always run out, but it is up to me to determine how I left it.

    That’s my thoughtful spot.


  • Glorie Meixell

    I’m not sure how to find my thoughtful spot. It seems like a wonderful idea, but I tend to like to stay in my apartment so there’s not a chance anyone will interrupt me, but at the same time finding inspiration within the four walls I live in is a difficult thing

  • LilianGardner

    Hello Jeff,
    I envy you guys being able to write from coffe bars, and other public places. I can’t do it in my little home town.
    My inspiration hits when I’m alone, especially at night, with lights out and family members fast asleep. I write, (in my head) dialogue between my story characters. I write when I’m doing ordinary chores, or out walking alone, or when watching a TV show that doesn’t interest me.
    I wish I could focus on one thing at at time, but my thoughts race along, almost tripping over each other, while my fantasy streams over worlds, planets, people, the unknown, and connects with family and friends who have gone.
    At the moment, my cat is conversing with the strays. Can you imagine the dialogue between them?

  • kim

    My thoughtful spot today- is a robot called arithmathea made of scrap metal ,and she has a mapped , brain, that finds soft supermarket bags , to be put into a incinerator .
    who knows what future under achievers may think up