25 April 2012

Let's Get Physical

by Robert Lopresti

Dixon's recent charmer about kittens reminded of a subject I wanted to bring up  A few weeks ago I was struggling with a stubborn plot point.  It was part of a long, complicated novelette and I couldn't figure out how to make all the flashbacks work.  Very frustrating.

Then one day when I was not thinking about the story at all I went downstairs to clean the cat litter.  This is not the most entertaining part of owning cats, but it needs to be done.  So I was doing what needed to be done and - boom.  I had the solution to my plot problem.  Oddly enough, the solution did not involve cats.

I've noticed this before.  Sometimes the best ideas come when you set the problem aside.and just engage in some physical activity that lets your mind wander.  I owe a lot of my ideas to bike rides or lawn mowing.

I vividly remember working out the plot for "Shanks Gets Killed" while strolling through the Arboretum near the campus where I work.  I've gone back there a few times but haven't found any more plots hiding among the pines.

What about you?  Do you ever find the solution to your mental problem in some mindless task?


  1. Rob, when wrestling with plot points, I sleep on them. Can't get more mindless than that!

  2. I had to laugh when I read your blog--lawn mowing has helped me, as well. It is a truly mindless task.

    I can't remember sleeping solving any plot points for me, Leigh; however, I have had a few dreams that became plot ideas that led to stories.

  3. Absolutely. That's why housework and gardening were invented.

  4. Unfortunately for me, I find myself working on plots when I go to bed. It will keep me awake for hours, and I know I'm not fit to live with the next day. Maybe I'll take up gardening.

  5. I agree about sleeping on it.

    I also find that going for a long drive tends to get the creative juices flowing in the right direction. No idea why. I HOPE it's not a mindless task for me; hope I've got my mind on the ROAD! lol


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