Friday Tips for Artists: Breaking Routine

Because I’m an artist, like most of you, and because I rely so much on inspiration, like most of you, breaking routine has always been a�big part of my life.� Sure, I paint with words instead of with a brush, but it comes from the same place, and is alternately driven or thwarted by similar circumstances.� The fact that I happen to own a gallery, and work with so many artists, never changes my own particular drive as a writer, and my need to maintain a certain edge.�

While I’ve always found middle-class life good for raising kids, it bores the heck out of me as an artist.� Sure I value the safety of that life, and�its relative�sanity compared to�lifestyles less privileged, but�man the routine of it can drive me crazy.� So what do I do?� I break the routine, constantly.

I love certain haunts Downtown, on the East Side, West Side, or in the depths of Kansas City, Kansas.� I�sometimes like the rough areas better than the hip ones, especially old neighborhoods that speak to me, although I don’t always know why they do.� While I’m in those places, I dig meeting people there whose lives are so different from my own.� Better�yet, if they’re teenage artists, I dig giving them opportunity that they may not get otherwise: an internship, a field trip to someplace�exciting, an opportunity for their first real show.��

When I’m in other cities, I dig the out-of-the-way even more:�East LA,�Brooklyn,� South Chicago, or Oakland.� The�trendy places�are nice, but when I’m looking to�get jolted as I rewrite a book, or�start on a new one, few places do this for me like the old part of a city, or a�deserted place in the country.� One thing’s for sure: I never get that from staying home, watching TV, and getting sucked into a�lifestyle that is certain to�kill inspiration,�passion,�and originality.

And when I grow bored of Missouri, I’m always up for a road trip: Arkansas, New Mexico, Mississippi.� These don’t have to be expensive trips, they�just have to be fantastic journeys of discovery, especially with someone you love.� When I lived in Hartford, I constantly did the same by blasting off to NY, DC, or just the White Mountains.� Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always made a point of discovering�all I could in each region, even if�I could only do it on a dime.

Equally, though I’m nearly 50, I still get juiced by physical challenge: white-water rafting, grueling bike trips through the desert, long hikes at high altitude, or�inline skating for miles�(hopefully without mishap).�

For the past week, while I’ve been on vacation in Colorado and Utah, I jumped into many of these things with my family.� Not only did I love sharing this with them, but I loved just as much how it sparked my writing.� Because I’m putting finishing touches on what�seems a promising a screenplay, that has meant a great deal.�

My point?� No matter what your calling, I find it’s always wise to avoid a lifestyle that bores you.��Each of us finds excitement in different things–a good book, a new love, an old haunt.� You’ll know those things for yourself.� Just please bear in mind that�if you’re feeling uninspired, or that your work has ceased to sing, you may well be suffering from the malaise of perpetual routine.� If so, you might try breaking it in some bold and unexpected way.� When done with�relative sanity (or insanity, if you prefer), the results can be fantastic.� At least they always have been for me.�����

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