Walking and Writing in Monterey

Monterey has a mystique all its own. It’s nestled along the coast of a state with miles and miles of gorgeous coastline, and yet people in California flock there as much as people from out of state. I grew up just an hour or two south of Monterey, and I remember making plenty of trips up there to visit the Monterey Aquarium and historical Cannery Row.

Writers, painters, and musicians are plentiful in Monterey’s history. John Steinbeck lived and wrote there, and captured his hometown in his novels. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Amateur Emigrant there. Salvador Dali maintained a studio in Monterey in the 1920’s. And even today, if you walk around the waterfront or drive the coastline, you can always see someone sitting by the water, writing or painting or taking photos. It’s a place that calls to creators.

One afternoon, when my workshop got a little bogged down on an idea, I ended it a little early to take a walk along the waterfront and explore Cannery Row. My hope was that the creative energy in the place would jog an idea loose.

I sat down on the rocks by Steinbeck Plaza and watched the waves come into a little inlet, waiting for an idea to shake loose.

I would love to say that some magic inspiration hit and I pulled out my notebook and started writing, but it’s not that easy. You can use all the scientific method and all the problem definition and problem solving steps in the world, and sometimes the solution just doesn’t present itself right away.

But something magic did happen while I was sitting out there. I stopped trying to force the issue. I sat back and relaxed, and watched the people come and go. It was nicely quiet for a busy afternoon on the waterfront, the noise of the day muted by both clouds and sea, so I took the chance to just relax and take it in.

After a moment, I noticed the “wine tasting” sign on the side of the building that houses A Taste of Monterey and the Caramel Ridge Winery Tasting Room. And, well, you can guess what happened next.

The ideas eventually came, after I got back to my hotel room, but so did a respect for how peaceful Monterey is. I might have set out for an afternoon of thinking and idea generating, but ended up with a huge appreciation for the mental relief that can come from taking a mental breather in beautiful and calming surroundings.

How about you guys? Where do you go to jog your ideas loose? What kind of places feed your creativity or your relaxation?


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  • Did you watch Big Little Lies on HBO? Amazing Monterey scenery as the backdrop to a fantastic story. I don’t watch much tv but it’s only seven episodes and well worth it.

    • Yes, it was amazing!! I had to watch a couple of the episodes twice because I got caught up in the scenery, but I loved it!!!