1. I think of whatever's annoying me at the moment (as I stated on Twitter, my brain is basically one eternal Seinfeld marathon, because I obsess over everything), and then I write about it. For example, I've filled up more than one page about the people who blast music and videos from their cell phones in cafes, so that it gets to the point that I want to hurl headphones at them.
2. I take advantage of the free-admission days at museums like the Art Institute, where I look at my favorite pieces of art, like the Miniature Rooms and the Impressionists' paintings. I sit on a bench and stare up at the beautiful art, thinking about the artists at work in their studios and how they didn't give up until they created something beautiful. A trip to the museum is enough to make me take out my journal and start writing, so that I can keep writing until I write something that is (hopefully) beautiful.
3. I eavesdrop on people's conversations at cafes, on the subway, at bus stops, in the grocery store, or in the laundry room, and then I write down what they say so that I can practice writing dialogue (and maybe even create interesting characters partly based on the people I listen to). For example, my journal is filled with lines I've overheard, like, "I can't believe he liked more of her selfies than mine. I thought it meant something when he followed me on Instagram," or "No, you can't sit there. My friend is sitting there, and he has every right to keep sitting there. It doesn't MATTER if he finished drinking his coffee an hour ago." and "I can't believe I had to sit through that whole movie. There were hardly any scenes with boobs in them." (I swear I'm not making any of these lines up. Chicagoans are weird.)
4. I reread my favorite books, like A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway or Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Reading a good book is like one of those rare days in Chicago where the weather is perfect and everyone stays outside to soak up every minute of it, because they know that it will be freezing cold or windy by the next day. Truly good books that make you think and feel things that no post on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook will EVER make you feel in the same way motivate me to get back to work on my own stories.
5. I buy a cheap ticket to a play at one of the tiny theaters in Chicago, where more often than not the actors are ten times more talented than many of the A-list celebrities starring on the big screen. Sometimes I'll see a play that I know little about and ends up making me angry, like the one that spewed a bunch of distorted, bigoted crap about Catholics and made me want to stand up in the audience and shriek, "You're all going to HELL, you HEATHENS!" (I didn't, though I definitely felt tempted.) Sometimes I'll watch a play that is almost as good as one of my favorite books or paintings, so that it makes me marvel at how people utilize the talents that they were given and created something original and amazing. Either way, after immersing myself in the playwrights' world for a couple hours, it makes me want to get back to my own world that I created in my writing.
What about you? What kinds of things do you do when you have writer's block? Is there anything about your hometown in particular that helps you deal with writer's block?
P.S. Have a safe and happy New Year!
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