Men going off in search of inspiration — not to be confused with men going their own way — is just something male artists have always done. Most recently following in that famed tradition was Kanye West, who spent time developing his latest album, Ye, in a remote cabin in Wyoming.
But whether it’s just going to a pond or buying 1,000 acres of land in the middle of nowhere, the thinking seems to always be the same: “If I could just block out the distractions, I could come up with better shit.” And to that end, in most cases where a man abandons his home for something satisfyingly different, the results are pretty good.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on where to go to get, well, inspiration, here’s a map of the places some prominent male artists and writers have traveled in search of themselves…
Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts
The Artist: Henry David Thoreau
What Went Down: It’s hard to imagine what sort of things kept Thoreau from being able to focus on his work, considering it was 1854 and the founder of Netflix hadn’t even been born yet. In his own words, Thoreau says he went to live along a pond because he wanted “to live deliberately.” What that actually meant, Thoreau explained in detail in his most famous work, Walden, named after said pond and arguably the most famous book on transcendentalism to date. All in all, then: A very good pond.
San Francisco de Paula, Cuba
The Artist: Ernest Hemingway
What Went Down: Considering Hemingway was notorious for traveling to far-off places, this list wouldn’t have been complete without his inclusion. In 1939, in the village of San Francisco de Paula, Hemingway — there referred to as “Papa” — would write and finish his most famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, all while sucking down his own brand of daiquiris.
The Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
What Went Down: It was in this tiny village in the Netherlands — admittedly only 44 miles from where Van Gogh was born, but that’s a trek by bicycle — that Van Gogh completed nearly 200 of his oil paintings. Being Van Gogh, however, the tranquility couldn’t last: His lover, Margot Begemann, attempted to commit suicide after her father refused to allow her to marry the painter. Shortly thereafter, Van Gogh would be accused of sexually assaulting one of his young peasant sitters and forced to leave town.
The Beauty Ranch, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California
The Artist: Jack London
What Went Down: In 1905, London paid $26,450 for 1,000 acres of land in Glen Ellen, a small town in Sonoma County California. Though the majority of his most famous works of fiction were written before London moved there, but he did publish at least one novel every year that he lived on the ranch. In fact, he would even admit that he loved the ranch so much that writing was just a means to holding onto his beloved patch of land.
Bixby Canyon, Big Sur
The Artist: Jack Kerouac
What Went Down: Though Kerouac was most famous for his novel about being, well, on the road, he also spent some time away from the road and, indeed, the world, in a cabin in Bixby Canyon. This is where Kerouac wrote his largely autobiographical novel Big Sur, in which he tackled dealing with his own fame and being a public figure. The novel would be made into a movie in 2013, cementing Kerouac’s place in history as yet another famous writer whose books have been transformed into barely watchable movies.
So there you have it: If you want to write the next Great American Novel, just find a cabin in the woods and get to work. Maybe make sure first, though, that it doesn’t come with wi-fi.