So, I’ve been in a bit of writing slump the past few weeks. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the query trenches, and that’s never a fun place to be for a writer (though it is going ok, with a few requests already), or if it’s just one of those life-doing-it’s-cycle thingies, or maybe it’s straight up procrastination borne out of fear starting a new WIP, but I haven’t written a word in quite a few weeks. Until the other day.
What happened the other day? I hear you ask. Well, I did something completely different to my usual daily routine. I took a bus (something I do only a few times a year), into the city (something I do even less frequently) and I did it in peak commuting time (something I NEVER, EVER do). And lo and behold, the change in circumstance and scenery flicked that elusive little switch and words filled my head again. Woohoo!
And, even better than that, with some tweaking I might even be able to use those words in the above mentioned procrastinated WIP. Double woohoo.
Would you like to read those words? No? Well, stop reading now. Oh, you would? Ok then. Here they are…
So many people standing; one hand gripping a pole, the other holding a smart phone, thumb tapping furiously; head phones jammed into ears, eyes cast down. No one looks up. No one smiles.
Not the lady dressed in red, reading her paperback (I wonder if one day I’ll see someone reading my book on the bus), her tick making her head jerk three times in a row; then three times more. And again. Not the heavy man in the heavy wool suit, beads of sweat pooling on top of his bald head. Not the slim blonde, immaculately dressed, perfectly manicured toes peeking out from under tight black trousers, feet incongruously comfortable in flip-flops; I imagine she has a pair of heels tucked inside her oversized black handbag. Louis Vuitton? I wouldn’t know. More people step on, press forward. The air is thick. No one looks up. No one smiles.
Except the man near me; fifty, grey. He stands. Offers me his seat. Maybe the shirt I’m wearing makes me look pregnant. It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s made that mistake. Or perhaps my discomfort in this strange place, so tightly packed against others, is written all over my face, my stance unsteady with every bump and jolt, and he takes pity. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful. Three times I thank him. No one looks up. No one smiles.
The great steal icon stretching across the harbour goes unnoticed as we move across it. Unseen also the bright white sails of the Opera House lifting up out of the blue water to greet the day. They’ve seen it a thousand times before, I suppose. Or perhaps not. Not properly. Tall concrete and glass sentinels mark our arrival at the city’s edge. From the belly of the bus we spill out onto the shadowed street where the morning sun cannot touch us.
So, my writing lesson for this month – when in a rut, go do something completely different, somewhere completely different, and see what happens.
What do you do when you’re in a rut? How do you snap yourself out of it?