One of the problems with the human mind is its tendency to want to map out certain comfort zones and then refuse to budge from them. We have habitual routes that we take to get to work, circuits that we make through the grocery store to find familiar items, catchphrases that we continue to repeat long after we’ve ceased to think about what they really mean. All this can be anathema to creative people – writers in particular. Stale routines can make for stale thinking. How are we supposed to experience the onrush of new and striking ideas if the stimulus of our day is the same as it was yesterday and the day before? One of the best ways to break this monotony is to uproot ourselves and find new places to write: fresh surroundings, a different ambiance.
Writers are notoriously solitary creatures, for the most part. We toil away in quiet places, seeking environments where the only sounds we hear are those occurring within our own minds. Unfortunately, those sounds can all-too-easily be reduced to those of a gerbil running endlessly on the treadmill, round and round. What we need are unaccustomed sights and smells – perhaps even activity or, dare I say, chaos and noise (on occasion). The flow of life is happening all around, but oftentimes our hermetic attitude towards the creative process shuts us off from it.
Sometimes a trip to a café does the trick. Sit down at a table singly or with a (committed) writing partner and write while your gaze strays, now and then, to the tapestries, or signs, or posters, or perhaps even the attractive designs on the menu chalkboard. This can get the wheels in our minds churning a lot quicker than the all-too-familiar walls of our bedrooms or office spaces.
Perhaps live music will offer the needed stimulus on a given night. Or the tranquil flow of a river. Nature is a bountiful source of inspiration. Mead makes great little notebooks that fit right in one’s coat or even pants pocket. Armed with a pen and one of these, we can be ready for the Muse whenever she chooses to visit. Walking can be hypnotic – almost trance-inducing – in its steady rhythm. Sometimes the words that refuse to come while we’re sitting at home, staring at the blank page, begin pouring out as soon as we start moving. As new imagery moves passed our eyes, new and unaccustomed thoughts fill our minds.
Writing does not need to be a sedentary nor a consistent pursuit. Often we need to be aware of when our Muse is craving change – of schedule, of pace, or of scenery. Finding an unusual place to write can satisfy all of these criteria, and open to doors to the unknown.