When I landed in Santorini last week I was expecting a full week to focus on my writing. I expected the time to be a perfect break from the distractions of my busy Swiss life. But each morning when I walked out of the apartment I had this view (pictured above), and I'd stare at it for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, with the only sound being the waves gently hitting the shore.
Then I'd bring my coffee, juice, and cereal out to the patio with my computer and open a blank page. But no words came out at first, and when they eventually did, they weren't all that inspired. My surroundings were inspiring, but what I was putting on the page was empty, almost dead.
But why? Wasn't I supposed to be drowning in beautiful words, paragraphs, ideas? Wasn't I supposed to be receiving inspiration from the sun and letting it transform into beautiful prose? I found it difficult, almost impossible to continue writing.
In a 1950 interview French novelist Blaise Cendrars described a writer friend who had a view of the Arc de Triomphe and found it impossible to work:
"One man of letters, celebrated for his frenetic cult of Napoleon, installed himself before a panorama to work—a historical one—the window of his study had a full view of the Arc de Triomphe. But this window was most often closed because the living spectacle of the glory of his great man, far from inspiring him, clipped his wings."
So, my view in Santorini had "clipped my wings". But why?
Because ultimately, writing is about looking within yourself, rather than looking at the outside world. We take inspiration from everyday life, but the act of writing is a part of the soul, it has to be filtered through the mind so that images, words, and ideas are brought together to create a story. This is a magical process of the subconscious mind. A gift. Therefore, when writing, look within your soul, and not for inspiration from the outside world. Because inside each of us, there is a universe we need to explore.