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4 Ways Winnie the Pooh’s Thoughtful Spot Can Inspire Your Writing

This guest post is by Jeff Elkins. In addition to being a Write Practice regular, Jeff is a writer and pastor. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and four kids. He is the author of the short story collection B-More Stories. You can follow Jeff at his blog or on Twitter (@jffelkins).

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.

Winnie the Pooh Quotes

 

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!”

Then, 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.

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, hi 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.

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

How do you find your Thoughtful Spot?

PRACTICE

Head to your Thoughtful Spot and spend twenty 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.

About Jeff Elkins

Jeff is a writer and pastor. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and four kids. He is the author of the short story collection B-More Stories. You can follow Jeff at his blog or on Twitter (@jffelkins).

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  • 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.

  • http://www.adelaidewritewritewrite.blogspot.com/ Adelaide Shaw

    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.
    Adelaide

  • 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

  • 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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