I'm sitting in front of my computer tonight. It's just after 8:00. I haven't come up with even an idea for today's blog post, much less something for my MTV Geek column that I was hoping to have done early this week. I was reading a number of creators' tweets and Facebook messages, went through all of the day's comic news, read all of my daily comics and caught up on last week's episode of America's Greatest Otaku... and I've got bupkis.
So I decided to take the dog for a walk.
Not as a means of procrastination, though! But as a conduit for The Muse.
I've walked the dog just about every night for the past eight years or so. I've walked in front of just about every house within a two mile radius a couple thousand times. (No exaggeration; I did the math.) And I've walked by them usually at night. Which means that A) I can't see them very well through the darkness and B) what I can see is pretty much the same thing I've seen a thousand other times.
So my mind wanders...
Because it's the basically the same schtick every night and because my sensory inputs are diminished (it's darker, there's less noise because fewer people are out, etc.) it almost forces me to turn inwards, and start rolling things around in my head. My train of thought can jump all over the place and, in that process, inadvertently make connections that might not have been there before.
Sure enough, after only ten minutes of walking, I had an idea for my MTV column. After another 20 minutes, I had written a good chunk of it in my head. I probably could have written the whole thing, but I deliberately stopped so I could come up with a blog post idea.
Despite the post title, what I'd like to get to is NOT to say that creative ideas only come from walking the dog or anything like that. I've had more than a few ideas precisely because I was sitting in front of the computer with half a dozen articles open. The ideas come when you start making connections in your head. The trick is in knowing how to set yourself up to be able to make those connections.
I was mowing the lawn earlier tonight. First time this year. And I noticed a tree had started growing in the spot where one I had planted three years ago had died. It was like the old tree was being risen from the dead. A zombie tree. A zombie Ent.
That's how those connections work. If you're not able to make them with what's sitting in front of you, you have to turn your focus inward. Which is easier to do if you're not distracted by Facebook and Twitter and Angry Birds and ticklish penguin videos.
Don't fear the blank page in front of you; it's just a mirror for what's going on upstairs.
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