Walk down the hall. Look out the window. Have you ever noticed that when you stop working on your own writing, you close off a certain kind of seeing? I find that I don’t look at the world quite the same way, and instead of a soft, open focus that lets in serendipitous bits of conversation or pauses to appreciate the morning light setting the jacarandas aglow, I have tunnel vision. A mission. A destination. A deadline. With everything filtered through that tight, focused urgency.

Part of making more room for writing involves letting the mind’s fist relase into a space where something new can be seen, recognized, felt.

In a recent piece on the Tin House blog, Nick Flynn, the poet and memoirist (“Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” “The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands”) described his process this way:

“Before I sit down, I need time to wander in the unknown for awhile, either psychically or physically, somewhat aimlessly, yet in a state of awareness, allowing seeming distractions to build up some energy, maybe around an image or idea or sound, until something reveals itself: a pattern, an echo, something that resonates with whatever it is I think I’m supposed to be working on. If I simply sit down and focus, nothing unexpected reveals itself.”

Today, try wandering. Then write down what you notice.