L.J. Cohen, What Inspires You?

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I have made some friends on Social Media who inspire me in various areas of creativity.  Lisa Cohen, aka L.J. Cohen, is one of these friends.


I asked her, “What inspires you?  Would you please share with me?”  And she was very gracious and agreed to share some of her thoughts with me and my lovely readers.

Lisa is writer.  Not just a writer but a published author.  And she and I have pottery in common.

Lisa is an adventurer.  She travels like I only dream of traveling. (Inspiring).

Lisa speaks (from an email received Sept 8, 2015):

There is a quote I love about writing and inspiration that’s been attributed to William Faulkner:  “I only write when inspiration strikes.  Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”

While I’m not quite that systematic, I have learned that inspiration isn’t the primary catalyst for my writing; habit and practice is.  Which is not to say that inspiration doesn’t have its very key place in being a creative person, but, by itself, it’s definitely not sufficient.

Having the habit and practice of writing daily allows me to channel the various sources of inspiration in my life into tangible form.  And, I believe, having that discipline lets me notice and to be inspired by what I experience.

Some of my sources of inspiration include dreams, being in the world, nature and especially running water, and making pottery.


I have, at times in my life, kept a dream journal, so that I could try to capture bits and pieces of dreams before the routine of daily life caused them to evaporate.  I don’t formally do this now, but I do often wake with a dream in my mind and by focusing on its details, I can often remember them.  Many are just bizarre – like this morning’s where I was either performing in or in the audience for a mash-up musical combining the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Saturday Night Fever, and A Fiddler on the Roof.  Truly, it made sense while I was dreaming it!  But I doubt that will make it into a story.

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The central scene in my short story, DIVERSITY,  came directly from a dream in which I was experiencing the kind of synesthesia my main character experiences – tasting sounds, hearing colors.  It was such a vivid dream, I knew I needed to craft a story around it.

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Eavesdropping on the world:

I’ve always been an observer.  I love to soak up the cadence of emotion of conversations around me.  People watching may be my favorite sport.  I’ve always played the ‘what it’ game and invent lives and stories for the people I see in the world.  Yesterday, my husband and I were at an amusement park.  The story/character fodder was nearly overwhelming!  In fact, one of my unpublished novels had its genesis at that same park several years ago and is the story of a young woman who discovers she sees ghosts while wandering and taking photos in an abandoned amusement park.

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I’m not much of a photographer, but having a smartphone with its built in camera at hand allows me to take pictures to keep track of sources of inspiration for future stories.

Nature and running water:

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When I’m stuck on a plot point, sitting and staring at a blank computer screen is decidedly unhelpful.  That’s when I ‘suit up’ the dogs and go for a walk.

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We live near a bike/walking path that also happens to meander next to a river, so I have double prizes: nature and running water.  It almost always lets my subconscious solve whatever writing problem I’ve been grappling with.

Years ago, my father in law used to keep a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay.  When I was sailing was practically the only time I could turn off my thinking brain and just be.  It was almost as if I needed to fill up all my senses in order to relax.  And during those times, my subconscious was free to wander and return with odd and interesting tidbits for my conscious mind.  the more connections a creator has between conscious and subconscious or unconscious, the richer the creations.

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Being a ceramics artist give me two different kinds of inspiration.  First, being involved in such a kinesthetic  activity also helps my thinking brain settle and quiet down, just as being in nature does.  But it also inspires me by exposing me to the creative ideas of other potters.  I work in a community studio where there are always others working beside me.  Sometimes we help one another problem-solve; most often we simply share our work and our thought processes.  many of my favorite creations have emerged from suggestions and examples of my fellow artists.

I guess you can see how Lisa can inspire creativity.  I love the way she expresses herself.  She is a unique and interesting woman.

You can learn more about her at www.ljcohen.net 🙂


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