On a recent trip to Edinburgh from my friend Jemma’s book launch, I found myself in a familiar part of town.

Familiar to me, because I’m sure I’ve stayed near here before, familiar to every tourist in Edinburgh because it’s home to ‘The Elephant House’ cafe which professes to be the place JK Rowling wrote most of her early Harry Potter books.   She’s actually interviewed on their home page in the cafe and talks about her ambition to write seven books and that if it was “done right” it could make a “great film”

elephant house cafe exterior

The Birthplace of Harry Potter

I had some time to kill so I decided to wait in the 12 person deep queue for a table.  My plan was to do some writing in my notebook – I’d finished my ‘work’ for the day so it was just going to be day dreaming and streams of consciousness.


After a good 20 minutes in an unusually hot queue watching tourists come in and out just to take photos, I was shown into the back of the cafe and asked to choose a seat.

“Do you like Harry Potter” asked my waiter.

“Yes I do” was my reply… “Well that’s special because this is the very seat JK Rowling sat in to do her writing .  You’ve chosen her seat.  You can see the castle out of the window! Look…”  It was like a secret whisper and an announcement all at once!

“I’ve chosen well then” I said excitedly and sat back in my seat and proudly ordered a hot chocolate trying to wish away all the touristy eyes who had obviously heard our exchange.

Now, of course this could be a complete coincidence but wow was it an inspiring one!!

And that is exactly what we creatives need… those universal breadcrumbs of excitement, joy, synchronicity.

Creative Joy – a captured moment

Making Space 

So as I understand this little cafe in Edinburgh on a bridge with FANTASTIC views made space for JK Rowling to do her writing regularly.  I wonder what she ordered each time?

The menu was great actually – but what does a REALLY successful person order from a cafe menu I wondered briefly?  Before reminding myself perhaps just the same as you and I?!

I recognised the cliche of opening a notebook to write in alone amongst the tables of friends, couples and individuals glued to their smart phones…but I did it anyway.

Perhaps if you present as a 4.30pm ‘table for one’ you automatically get the best seat in the house?!   I wrote…. and it continued.

Notebook with butterflies and hot chocolate

The space to write

The Elephant – the remover of obstacles

Now there are no elephants that I can remember in any of the Harry Potter stories… but this particular cafe is FULL of them.  There are paintings, statues, you can even buy a t-shirt emblazoned with one!    Complete testament to the fact that you can block out the chinks of crockery, low level noise of conversation and The Bangles belting Eternal Flame on the sound system if the mood of writing a world wide best seller captures you.

a view to Edinburgh Castle

The window JK found her inspiration for Hogwarts… she says it’s not directly referenced in the book but she’d imagined the school of witchcraft and wizardry was in Scotland…

The Wand Choses the Wizard

Remember comparison can be the thief of both joy and creativity.  Yes people are out there making and doing stuff 24/7 but no one is going to do what you do.  Not one single person.  Promise!

If you are struggling for creative inspiration try taking yourself to a new place.

Experimenting with new materials, colours, environments…  Engage friends, children, family.

Walk, meditate, sleep more… If you’re noisy be quiet.  If you’re quiet be noisy.  Creativity my friends is coming!


Claire x

PS – Inspiration Island is a reference to my Artist Boat coaching programme for creatives.