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Your Next Great Idea is Waiting in the Break You’re Avoiding

It’s a tale as old as time: a watched pot never boils, and a writer sitting at her desk never has anything to write about. Regardless of whether you think of yourself as a creative, you probably know the feeling of laboring over a seemingly unsolvable problem for hours, only for the perfect solution to pop into your head the moment you give up and go for a walk.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those eureka moments lately. Until recently, I was a corporate attorney by trade, and writing was a second fiddle that I played only when I felt like it. So, I hadn’t thought much about the creative process. As of today, my manuscript for my forthcoming poetry collection is due to my publisher in 23 days. So, I am thinking about little other than the creative process.

I’m learning that all my best ideas live in my subconscious mind. I’m learning that my subconscious mind is slippery and shy and allergic to deadlines. Here are a few strategies I’ve used to coax it out of its shell:

  1. Get Outside:

Research shows that nature has the capacity to enhance our creative ability, confirming what poets have known since the dawn of time. There’s a reason trees were the brain food of choice for Mary Oliver, Henry David Thoreau, and so many more of the greats. When I don’t know where to look for my next idea, I take a walk and look around.

  1. Disconnect to Reconnect:

Two things can be true at once: 1. The internet is a gold rush of everything the creative heart craves—information, inspiration, motivation, tips and tricks, free recordings of poetry workshops; and 2. Nothing dulls the creative spark like the infinite social media scroll. Research has found that just being in the same room as your phone—even if it’s turned off—can impact your cognitive ability. A fully screen-free day always does wonders for my thinking.

  1. Change of Scenery:

When taking a walk in downtown Houston and putting my phone upstairs fails me, changing locations is my ace in the hole. Usually, that just means going to a coffee shop, but if I have a free weekend, I love going to Getaway to write. Between the technology-free environment, nature, and the change of scenery, whenever I’m there, I always manage to lure a few ideas out of hiding.