A few months ago, I was on a super tight deadline. It was important for me to meet this deadline for professional purposes, obviously, but also for personal reasons. I was starting a new workshop at the end of the month, and I needed to get this story wrapped up with a bow so that I could focus all of my energy on my teaching.
I couldn’t do it. I was totally stuck.
I knew there was a way to fix this massive plot hole without starting from scratch, and I knew the answer was somewhere inside myself, but I couldn’t access it. Insert epic amounts of caffeine. Scheduled writing times. Word count goals. I forced and poked and prodded my thoughts, trying to corral them into submission. But the solution wouldn’t come.
This is the point where most creatives will tell you to relaaax. They’ll wax poetic about how you need to sleep and read and eat an actual meal that doesn’t consist of, well, coffee and coffee. You have to let the Muse do her thang and all that.
Except there’s this little thing called a deadline, and it’s kind of important.
While I agree that relaxation is an important aspect to creativity, no amount of sitting on a meditation pillow and chanting OMMM is going to light you up. And why would it? It isn’t meant to. Meditation + sleep + reading are cooling activities. For fresh, exciting ideas, we need heat.
Heated Activities are anything that puts you far enough out of your comfort zone to make your heart pound a little faster. All adventure falls under this category.
The keystone of all adventure is novelty, whether it’s running a different route than you normally do, or attending a painting class when you haven’t picked up a paintbrush. Ever. It’s all the big stuff too: sky-diving, cliff-jumping, heart-stopping exploration. It’s the stuff that makes you think wider and stretch further. It’s emotional, spiritual, and physical fodder for your brain.
Here are three steps to efficiently using adventure to solve your plot (and life!) twists:
- Step 1: Write down your plot issue in a journal, or on a slip of paper. Write it out as if you were discussing the issue with an old friend. End it with, “How can I fix this? What do I need to do? I’m listening.“
- Step 2: Slip the paper in your pocket and choose an adventure. You don’t have to go far and wide or spend a ton of money to have an adventure. Remember: adventure’s keystone is novelty, so think different, not necessarily decadent. One time my adventure involved getting coffee from a new shop instead of my traditional Sunday-morning Starbucks. This counts, too!
- Step 3: Be in the moment of your adventure. Wherever you go and whatever you do, make sure your brain is actually there. Hide the cellphone, but keep a pen and paper handy. Write down anything new and interesting you encounter, including conversations, interested traits you notice in the people around you, your own thoughts and feelings. Take it all home and translate it into your work. If you haven’t gotten to break-through status yet, hang tight. It’s on its way.
I’ve recently become so committed to adding more adventure into my creative process that I designed a huge adventure list + workbook + journal that I give away for free at all my workshops. Now I’m giving it away during my online course, too, and I’m ridiculously excited about it! I hope you’ll join in and tell me about all your adventures.