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Avanti Centrae Asks Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Avanti Centrae is the author of the VanOps thriller series. You can read a sample from the series at her website, VanOps.net. You can also find out more about her here, see her books here, and read her last post here.

Do you ever feel stuck at work? Can’t find the answer to a thorny problem? Where do you turn? What do you do?

A meadow surrounded by trees, by Avanti Centrae

In this post, with Earth Day 2022 still visible in the rear-view mirror, I want to celebrate nature as muse and problem solver.

What? Wait? “You don’t sit inside on a keyboard all day, every day, penning thrillers and pounding the keyboard until your fingers bleed?”

Actually…no.

I do some of my best work when I’m hiking.

The prologue of my next thriller came to me on a trail at Lake Tahoe. Fortunately, I was alone among the pines and able to find a shady spot where I could peck out the chapter on my phone.

Many scenes of my earlier books were written while I sat in a hanging chair under the pecan tree in my back yard. Funny how those tense action scenes come to me when I’m relaxed.

Being Outside

I’ve often wondered, what is it about being outside, surrounded by the flowers and the trees that gets my creative juices flowing?

Maybe it’s that when my longing for the great outdoors is satisfied, my mind can focus on other things. Maybe it’s that my body is usually walking, and the rhythm slows the busy part of my mind and allows the slower, more creative aspects of my subconscious to come to the fore. Perhaps it’s the joy and pleasure I get from watching the squirrels, the crimson birds, and the bright-yellow butterflies.

Close up photo of pink flowers by Avanti Centrae

Plus, I usually get a little exercise. Or maybe it’s the movement that helps grease the mental wheels.

Whatever it is, it works. Whenever I get stuck, I need only head outside for a walk. That strategy worked when I was an IT executive, and works for me now when I’m figuring out a plot twist for my non-stop action thrillers.

Thank God for smartphones, as I can easily jot down my ideas and incorporate them later while I am sitting inside at my desk.

Of course, hiking isn’t good for editing; but for coming up with ideas, or working through problems, it works for me every time.

I often post pictures of my outdoor inspiration-hunting adventures on social media. I hope you’ll join me there to remark about your own outdoor activities.

So, I’m curious. Where do you find inspiration? What works for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Avanti Centrae

You can find out more about her on her website, www.avanticentrae.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Jacqueline Vick

    That’s a great suggestion. I need to get outdoors more. BTW, I saw that your book, “The Lost Power” is the Bookbub Deal today. Unfortunately, I already have it, but heads up for other readers!

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Yes, The Lost Power is flying off the shelves today. It just hit #62 in the entire Kindle store – I’m over the moon and can’t wait to hear what all those new readers think of the product of my inspiration!

      1. Sharon Lynn

        Congratulations!

  2. Christine DeSmet

    I’m with you on the outdoor thing. I often will pose a plot or character question as the “theme” of my walk outdoors in nature. Usually, the answer comes to me by the time I get back to the computer. This technique has served me well for many, many years and it makes the walk doubly interesting.

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Christine, I like that idea of posing a question to your muse as you walk!

  3. Sherrill Joseph

    Thanks, Avanti. I agree about getting outdoors for inspiration plus exercise. During the pandemic, I read that outdoor exercise sparks creativity, and you’re proving it. I found a plot idea a few years ago while walking when I saw a downed eucalyptus tree in the park following a rainstorm. I also get inspiration from my childhood memories; for instance, the vision of my grandaunt’s canyon pond transmuted into the Egyptian pond in my first book. Nature can be beautiful, memorable, and inspirational!

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Sherrill, neat to hear where you get inspiration. Those childhood memories are also rich!

  4. saralynrichard

    Count me as a nature-lover, too. There’s something timeless and massive about nature that puts little me in contemplative mode. But I also get a lot of my ideas while exercising, whether indoors or out. Like you, I think the body movements allow thoughts to flow through the brain and come to the surface. Keep posting those photos. The inspiration is contagious!

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Saralyn, nice to hear you also get inspired while exercising. I agree! Just is more fun for me to do it outdoors. Well, as long as it isn’t pouring rain 🙂 That’s a great time to exercise inside.

  5. Laurie Buchanan

    Avanti — outdoors, Outdoors, OUTDOORS. I’m with you all the way!

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Laurie, I also love all the nature pics you post of your hikes!

  6. Sheila Lowe

    The beach! Luckily, I live only a few miles away. Or, anywhere it strikes

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Sheila, I used to live in Hermosa Beach, just south of LA, and loved biking along the strand. The sea, with its timeless majesty, certainly carries its own inspiration.

  7. Outdoors is great, but I also get inspiration in the middle of the night or while driving. Unfortunately the being inspired while driving often results in missing exits, losing my way, and in general “coming to” and saying, “Now where was I going?” Great post, Avanti!

    1. Avanti Centrae

      Hi Margaret, I sometimes also get lost in the zone while driving! That muse can cause all sorts of mayhem.

  8. GP Gottlieb

    Makes me long for the sun to shine so I can walk outside! Like you, I get those ideas while walking/hiking.

  9. Tracey Phillips

    Hey Avanti! I love being outdoors and your post encourages me to get out there even if it’s rainy and cold. (spring is coming eventually, right?) But I do my best work first thing in the morning somewhere between dreaming and consciousness. That’s when my characters speak to me. I guess they know that I’m listening!

  10. Sharon Lynn

    I’m with everyone else on this – the outdoors are incredibly inspiring. Even if I do start to see sinister situations in every shadow.

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