Writing inspiration on the commute

Colosseo, Rome, ItalyI’m very pleased to be a car-free commuter.

My early morning walk into work  is just under 20 minutes and – at the risk of sounding immodest – it’s one of the prettiest commutes ever.

I live in Rome and each day I watch the Colosseum loom into sight as I descend the hill in Colle oppio. I examine the holes gouged into the marble centuries ago to steal the metal. I watch the sun reflect off the 2000-year-old monument and the sparrows and seagulls that perch on its ancient arches.

I walk by the Arch of Constantine, built in 315 A.D. to celebrate the Emperor’s victory of Maxentius in 312. Each day, I notice new details in the intricate scenes.

2012_April_Palatine2Next, I walk past the Palatine Hill – once home to the sumptuous palaces of the Emperors. I love to see it in the springtime (see my earlier post), with the wild flowers forming a riot of colors on its verdant hills.

And finally, I walk past Circus Maximus, once home to the exciting, crowd-pleasing chariot races of Ancient Rome.

Walking always puts me in a good mood, and I love passing the impressive monuments I see each day – those that have been admired by centuries of Romans and tourists alike.

But my walk is also an ideal time to run through story ideas in my head, think about plot points, characters, and settings, when I think about what hardships I want to throw at my characters and how they’ll respond.

Colosseo, Rome, ItalyI love that this creative time happens during my morning commute, before my adoptive city is in full-blown chaotic mode. Before the Romans zip by in their cars and scooters. Before the monuments open and hordes of tourists from all corners of the world line up to see these wonders from Rome’s glorious past.

And you, writers? Are their precise times of the day when your creative process is more inspired? Is it walking, jogging, seated at your desk?


  1. Catherine on April 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

    What a divine commute! I bet your ideas come forth. My ideas tend to appear when I am driving – which I do a lot of – or swimming too. But I’m finding spring is making me rather restless! I think I write better with fog..

    • kimberlysullivan on April 7, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Thanks, Catherine. Swimming’s my other favorite. Hmmm, restless, eh? Sounds like you need a trip to Rome. : )

  2. ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) on April 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Walking is one of my very favorite ways to think on my writing. A lot of scenes get worked out on my daily walk during our non-winter months. MN is so close to me returning to that routine!

    • kimberlysullivan on April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, Janet. Hope spring will provide you with plenty of opportunities for long walks/plot fixing. I know you deserve some pleasant walking weather after this winter!

  3. evelyneholingue on April 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    You made me envious and nostalgic, too, since I used to enjoy pretty good commute routes as well when I lived in Paris.
    Now I’m a true American, behind the wheels. However my commute cuts through the Sierra foothills and often I realize why LA and SF people drive over. The space, the colors, the mountains in the distance are lovely and open the mind in an unlimited way that nature can inspire.
    And for me, the foreigner in this land so different from my native France, this landscape is an inspiration too.
    My new manuscript (a work in progress) draws actually from this scenery.
    So I would say that driving can be a pretty good thinking time for me. I still pay attention to the driving, though!

    • kimberlysullivan on April 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Ah, yes. Paris is another great city for walking commutes. Glad to hear you now get your inspiration behind the wheel – à l’américaine. : ) You area is certainly wonderful for those stunning, inspiring views. Look forward to hearing more about your WIP.

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