Last week, getting in my car and driving to visit family in the Gloucestershire countryside felt like an adventure after months spent at home during the lockdown.
The timing was perfect. I’d felt stuck with a tricky piece of writing for a while and had moved onto something else, hoping a solution would come. Weeks had passed without one and I hoped a complete rest from the project would be the answer, that I would enjoy instead writing flash fiction with a view of a different garden and the oak trees beyond.
As I drove to Gloucestershire, my car winding through the roads to the village, thoughts of this problematic piece of writing returned to me but I put them out my mind.
After I’d caught up with everyone, had a cup of tea and a bite to eat, I decided to go on a walk along a route I’d never tried before.
How lovely it was to be out in the sun, surrounded by birdsong. My mind zoned out and began daydreaming in motion as I gazed across the fields, cows munching on grass with no care in the world, birds flitting merrily between trees.
But then, out of nowhere, an idea hit me.
I stopped, taken aback, as if a cow had just charged into me.
This was it. The perfect solution to my writing problem.
There was only one issue. I’d gone out without my notebook. Desperate not to forget the idea, I repeated it over and over in my mind, all the way back.
What a relief it was to get to my temporary desk, breathless from rushing, to record the idea in ink before it evaporated into the country air. As I continued writing, exploring how I could get the idea to work in practice, I realised that what my writing problem had needed was not a rest but a change of scene, a chance to come at it with fresh perspective.
If you have a writing problem and space hasn’t solved it, try a change of scene instead. You don’t necessarily have to travel far to do this, although it’s a perfect excuse for a holiday if you want one. Maybe you could go on a walk, somewhere nearby, following a new route or drive to an inspiring location like a lake, a beach or a castle.
When you move out of the familiar, you can look at the world with fresh eyes; you can approach your writing with a fresh mind.
Ideas are always waiting to be found on new horizons.