1. Make yourself something to eat. Not a sandwich or platter of assorted chips, nuts and various sweets hiding in the pantry, but an honest to goodness meal—a crockpot meal, some Procrastination Stew. Head to the grocery store, peruse the produce section for an orange bell pepper, Russian fingerling potatoes, carrots, gold pearl onions, a couple husks of corn, some summer squash, parsley and a quart of vegetable stock. Get to your kitchen and chop that shit up. Thicken up with rice and in six hours you’ll forget all about the nagging issues of narrative trajectory as you ladle a hearty portion of Mother Nature into your bowl.
Benefit: A scrumptious smelling home, multiple meals that will open up writing time, and an excuse to get up every 20 minutes to look in on the crock pot.
2. Treat yo’self. Take a trip to your favorite thrift shop. Find a jacket for your next reading, something that says, I’m a serious artist, but more importantly, I’m a badass. Give the bookshelves the once over. They’ll be crowded with romance and mystery, but at least some aspect of your life should be. And who knows, maybe you can snatch up a hardbound copy of Stephen King’s On Writing or a stack of Didion paperbacks some idiot gave up. Let me suggest a slow foot and sharp eye among the rows of knick-knacks. Inspiration has a funny way of sharing company with ceramic clowns and coffee-stained mugs.
Benefit: The Lee, butterfly collar, denim jacket you’ll be sporting at the coffee shop, The Stories of John Cheever—it’s orange, you won’t miss it—and the plasticized piranha you’ll gift to a friend who is sure to look over your manuscript, offering marginals no doubt!
3. Go to the library. Don’t roll your eyes. I’m not suggesting you pick up the collected works of Dostoyevsky, so you can watch it gather dust and late fees on a side table. Instead, spend some time with the magazines. Find a comfy seat and read up on emerging economic trends in South East Asia or the reemergence of CD culture amongst post-millennials. Maybe look over the top edge of those silky pages with their crisp digital images and do some old fashion people watching. Hunt the racks for the latest Best American Short Stories, Non-Fiction, Poetry, whatever, and use the honorable mentions index to comprise a list of magazines that you will send your current project to when it is realized and polished.
Benefit: Remembering you’re not the center of the universe, a new character who’s hovering above an oversized art book with a magnifying glass, and an all important catalogue of dreams and goals.
4. Commune. Call a friend and demand they meet you in 30 minutes at the coffee shop where they do all those fancy tricks with the foam, though you’ll both get the house blend as per usual. Decompress a bit. Gripe about the factors that are keeping you down, and resolve to make the change you seek. Talk about your latest troubles with love. Explain ad nauseam your current project until you realize that what you’re writing about is not the complications of class but the complications within yourself. Maybe get one of those pinwheel cookies that are so perfect with coffee but too crunchy to be considered a cookie at any other time.
Benefit: A real live person who will listen to you unlike that damn blank page, maybe you’ll stumble upon the reason the creative pipes are clogged, and there’s the cookie.