I just read an article titled, “Why Going Off the Grid is Great for the Creative Process” and I have to admit this: I hated it.
I didn’t hate it because it was poorly written. In fact, it was very well-written. It was succinct, to the point; I didn’t hate it because it was untrue. It was wildly accurate. Shutting down the phone, allowing time for thought and some reading and perhaps a walk without distraction is amazing for the creative process.
I hated it because it doesn’t reflect a reality of the modern writer. It doesn’t reflect a realistic life for me or for any other writer I know. I’m 36 years old. I’ve got a family. I’ve got a house and a mortgage. I’ve got bills to pay. I’ve got dinner to cook. I’ve got kids that need to be dropped off at school and then dance class and soccer practice.
I can’t fly to Dublin (or London or San Francisco). I can’t afford to rent an AirBnB in the middle of any country. I can’t leave my life so that I can spend 36 hours in solitude (and, trust me, I would love to). And neither can most writers I know.
Simply put, the article read like an entitlement, like those “How to live in New York City on a budget” articles when 90% of the “budget” comes from mom and dad.
In reality, few writers can saunter off to the woods to get short stories started in solitude.
What does this mean for the rest of us?
It means we are stuck finding inspiration on our own. It’s in those fleeting moments of silence between turning the car on in the morning and racing back into the house to avoid the cold. It’s finding inspiration while we walk the dog in the park. It’s looking outward rather than down at our phone when we’re stuck in the waiting room at the dentist. It’s about recognizing a story when it lands on our noses or making a note of the line that strikes us at 2 a.m. when we’re lying in our beds.
If you’re one of the many who can’t get away for a three-day weekend in a Dublin AirBnB to get everything outlined for the new novel, how do you do it? Where do you go to get the necessary inspiration? What do you do to navigate the constraints of a busy life to get some ass-in-chair time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.