Every person has a unique process when they're creating something, and I guess it's with some surprise that after years of experimenting I've finally found a process that works for me when it comes to writing. And it's all about not sitting in one place.
I know, I know... it sounds counter-intuitive, especially when so many writers associate productivity with sitting in one place, pounding away at a keyboard, counting every word produced, reveling when you actually finish a page. And although I do sit at my desk and type, I found I cannot do it for long. After a while, the writing begins to feel like drudgery. I don't ever want to feel, as author Gene Fowler once quipped, that "writing is easy... All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."
If writing involves some form of blood-letting, then I'm doing it wrong. To keep myself from getting to this point, I need to get up and move. I need to see something different, hear new sounds, breathe fresh air, observe humanity.
Fortunately, technology has helped a lot. My MacBook Air weighs only three pounds, making it easy to strap to my back as I set off on another walk-about. It doesn't matter where I wander, and often I don't even have a destination in mind. The important thing, at least for me, is the journey. If I decide to stop somewhere along my route and create, well, the MacBook makes this extremely convenient. If I'm just gathering inspiration, my iPhone allows me the chance to take beautiful photographs, record sounds, produce video or leave myself memos.
As I ventured out this morning, I watched kayakers paddling down the Marys River, found ducks frolicking at the water's edge and stumbled upon a boarded-up house sitting lonely and forgotten.
Will any of these experiences become the fodder for a short story or a new novel? Maybe not, but that's also not the point. I can't write effectively unless I'm experiencing things. If you find yourself stuck staring at that blank sheet of paper, go take a walk and see if it helps you, too.