It may be literally the oldest advice in the book – when things aren’t working, change your perspective. Go to a museum and see something new, drive down a neighborhood you’ve never been before, even just change what you’re reading or watching on TV. I’m always so amazed at how basic the advice is, how easy it is to take, and how dramatic the change is – and how resistant I am to taking it. Not consciously, of course, but my comfort zone is, well, comfortable, and when I’m burnt out from work and relationships and finances the last thing I want to do is take a flying leap outside of where I’m comfortable for the sake of a little inspiration. It’s much easier to crash in front of an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race – or Clueless for the thousandth time – than to go check out a museum after work. Shit, it’s even easier to stay home and do chores or run errands on my days off than take day trips places I haven’t checked out before. But when I do – even unintentionally – I wonder why I didn’t sooner and what I was thinking.
Road tripping to Chicago and the surrounding areas – with the museum trips, nature walks, and history lessons that are an integral part
of such a trip – kickstarted a part of my creativity that I hadn’t even consciously realized had been blocked. Wandering around the Ancient Americans exhibit in the Field Museum I felt like I could feel my creative brain turning back on again and creating a whole new history for my culture that I had never considered before. Driving down a highway on our way to Minnesota I saw a tree in a cage (honest to God, I don’t know what’s up with that and I don’t care to) and it gave me a seedling that I needed to bang out a quick short story. I honestly believed in my brain that my problems with writing stemmed from needing to clarify where my story was and where it was going – my fear of plot holes was becoming larger than my fear of stagnation. But all that it was coming from was stagnation. I should have realized that I needed new influences – the idea for this story came to me while standing in the ruins of an abandoned factory last summer on a day trip around Jersey with my roommate, not just lazing around my apartment, after all. I think it’s probably important to note that I didn’t write any new plot while on my trip, but I did nail down quite a bit of background/history, as well as an entirely separate short story and several blog posts (mostly) unrelated to the book. I may still be blocked on my plot – I do believe in this case that my brain was correct, I need to see where I’ve been to see where I’m going – but I don’t actually have full on writers block. In fact, I filled up my notebook, and started writing on the back pages (it’s more of a flip notepad, so most of the back pages I was using for sketches or unrelated notes) – which is a TON of writing. So definitely a win, no questions asked!