Here are three small things you can do regularly in a city that will have a huge effect on your overall sense of inspiration and creativity:
1.) Look up. Most people walking around a city spend 70% of the time looking at the ground. This may have a lot to do with avoiding puddles and errant dog crap, but it’s mostly just habit. Look up when you walk. Look around. Look at the people you pass. See things.
2.) Don’t listen to an iPod while out of your apartment. This one works wonders, but it’s tough to break the mp3 habit. Make an effort to listen to the sounds of the city. The soft background din of buildings at rest, the flutter of pigeons wings, sirens, high heels tapping on concrete… listen to the play of sounds and try to describe them in your head. Compare them. Your greatest lines will come from sound.
3.) Eat dinner out. Alone. It’s important to do this on a weekly basis. Most people aren’t comfortable eating alone in public, so the sheer act of breaking out of a comfort zone can have positive effect on your thinking. Pick a day of the week and stick to it. Find a restuarant that is at ease in the late afternoon before the dinner rush (this ensures attentive, but casual, service). Bring a weekly paper or magazine. Order a good drink. Also, while you’re there, follow the two tips above…