Helen Phillips Recommends...

“The solution to being stuck almost always lies outside the writing itself. Creativity arises from playfulness, not from relentless concentration. It’s more powerful to look at a problem askance than head-on. Insight will arrive during a walk or a shower or a tumble on the floor with my kids; while I’m scrubbing the toilet or strolling around the visible storage gallery at the Brooklyn Museum or reading a science article or going through airport security. When I’m in an idea drought, I try to experience as many random things as possible. I want unfamiliar scenes and sounds clattering around in my head. I want to be catapulted out of my own clichés. I want to have a sense of myself more as a human than as a writer. Being in a situation that interferes with my writing time often breeds ideas. I’ll be visiting extended family for a week, forgoing my writing hours, and that’s when the ideas start to hit. I’ll have epic dreams every night, and I’ll become desperate to get back to writing, to play around freely in the mud; I’ll feel again that old urgency that is the basis of any good writing I’ve ever done.”
—Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat (Henry Holt, 2015)