Resetting My Writing Brain via London

We took a fun excursion to London recently, and I didn’t think about writing once. I wanted a reset. No poems, no notebook, no scribbled ideas on my latest novel. Just the day-to-day joy of being in the moment. I didn’t even take as many pictures as I normally do, wanting to experience everything without a filter between my eye and the subjects.

We mostly toured museums, our passion for the past driving us. The British Museum in particular, where I could see all the mummies, statues, pottery, tools, chessmen, and hieroglyphs my heart desired. Things I’d studied in history and art history classes. Of course, to complete the art history trifecta, we hit the National Gallery and Tate Modern museums. Admiring paintings in person made my brain happy. There’s nothing like seeing the swirls of paint in a Van Gogh for yourself.

Pharoah Statue British Museum,
Horse head from Parthenon, British Museum
Horse head from Parthenon, British Museum
Lewis Chessmen, King, Bishop, Berserker
Lewis Chessmen – King, Bishop, Berserker
British Museum
Four Philosophers
The bane of studying for my Philosophy degree.
Ancient Philosophers.

Now that the trip is a couple of weeks in the past, my mind turns to exploring the sights and sounds of having been in London, looking for patterns and turning phrases around and around. Poems lurk on the periphery, waiting to be coaxed into life. I use the feelings of being a stranger in another country in my novel, guiding the character through missteps. We didn’t make that many—I think—because we read and videoed up on the place before we went.

Van Gogh, Sunflowers, National Gallery
Van Gogh, Sunflowers, National Gallery
Prime meridian
Prime Meridian, Greenwich Observatory
View from Greenwich Observatory
View from Greenwich Observatory
Clock Tower
Big Ben from one of our walk abouts

It was the small things. Standing to the right on escalators to let the impatient people go by. Waiting for others to get off the train before we got on. Saying good morning to our barista. (Who got to know us well.) Remembering politeness, something that seems to be dropping by the wayside as the century goes on. We found Londoners to be generally polite people. I was always offered a seat on the subway by random males. Perhaps due to the silver streaks in my hair? But it was appreciated. Especially after six hours walking in museums and the time spent walking from the Underground (and its numerous stairs) to the latest location.

This is not the Army’s hiking

That was another thing I enjoyed (mostly) The walking to get places. My current hometown is very car-centric, so being able to use public transportation and pop out close to my destination was a relief. I’m sure you folks in big cities know the feeling. Of course, being on vacation, there was no real rush to get places. We arrived when we arrived. We could enjoy the streets and scenery. Twice we took random walks, once in the Paddington neighborhood we stayed in, where we found a fabulous Italian restaurant, and the second time when we blew off another museum and just walked around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It was beautiful, we enjoyed watching the dogs frolic on the expanses of green grass, got rained on, saw Guards on horses practicing for a parade, and generally just reveled in the pretty (long) walk.

Kensington Garden flowers
Kensington Garden flowers

Our home base for excursions was Paddington Station, and it’s funny how having a ‘center’ at the beginning and end of the day really helped. Not to mention the coffee shops in the station. Got to get our fix coming and going. The hustle and bustle in the station was a nice contrast to the slow pace of my rural hometown. My brain embraced the contrast, and now that I’ve had time to digest it all, I feel words stirring. The urge to jump back into writing and explore relationships between people and places. I’m ready.

What do you do to reset your writing brain?

Connie in front of our London flat
Some of the Places We Went

British Museum

The National Gallery

Tate Modern

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Hyde Park

The Cleveland Arms Pub


Harry Potter Studio Tour

More Essays

Five Poems That Pulled Me Into Poetry

Backwards This Language Is

Sketching Out a New Year

How Cats Help You Write

More Lessons From Printmaking

A Meditation on Walking and Writing

For more essays, search the Non-Fiction Links


  1. Travel is the best way I know to reset my creative self! Since traveling in Italy in April, I feel more inclined to scribble words about all kinds of things, not just the trip itself. The shift in perspective that travel affords us is just the thing to kick ourselves in the pants!

  2. I’m glad I traveled far, it really helps to have that different perspective. Since I didn’t worry about trying to find the words while traveling, I can see things through a wider lens. Italy next time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top