Rachel Heng Recommends...

“When the writing gets away from me, it’s rarely something creative that brings it back. Feeling stuck for me usually means being in a state of creative surfeit, where I want nothing to do with stories at all. In these moments I like reading articles filled with statistics. Give me crude oil outputs, carbon dioxide levels, employment growth rates, life expectancy projections by country, or the number of annual visitors passing through various airports. Documentaries about pharmaceutical companies, deep-sea life, and the exorable spread of Nordic minimalism work too. Other things that help: reality TV—most recently, I’ve been obsessed with Love Island, a British show that is a cross between Survivor, The Bachelorette, and Lord of the Flies—and looking at photos of other people’s homes on real estate websites. There are, of course, stories in all these things, but they are buried beneath numbers, cheesy voiceovers, and flashy advertising. If I keep at it long enough, one story or another eventually strikes a chord, dislodges something in my brain, and I start to feel the urge to write again.”
—Rachel Heng, author of Suicide Club: A Novel About Living (Henry Holt, 2018)