When it comes to my writing, instead of getting down about life's interruptions, I try to find ways to make progress. Here are some of my solutions:
Always carry a book. I always have a book with me. If I can do nothing else, I can read for craft. I can study how another author made something work, or maybe didn’t. I'm always thinking, "What can I learn from this author?"
Always have a pen and notepad. I love pens and small notepads! I carry them in my purse and my totebag. I use them to capture all kinds of inspiration: snippets of conversation, people observations, ideas, names, settings... You never know what you might encounter that will surprise your muse.
Talk to strangers. Strike up a conversation with the person nearest you in the waiting room, or the person behind you in the grocery line. Pay them a compliment, or ask a question. Even that old standby – the weather – can be come in handy. You never know where a conversation might lead. Funny stories, the spark of an idea, and colorful descriptions from a different point of view have all come out of spontaneous conversations with strangers.
People watch and listen. Stuck in the waiting room? Get out that notepad and pen! There are interesting people all around us. What about the stranger across the room catches your eye? Why did they catch your eye? Can you recapture that for a character in your book?
Take a walk. Stretch your legs and clear your mind! Be open to your surroundings. Notice things you never paid attention to before. Walking on my lunch hour at work allows me to get some fresh air and walk off some stress.
My walks also have another purpose: I'm taking pictures of anything and everything as reference points for my son, who is creating a video game. In the course of walking and taking pictures, I started noticing things I never noticed before: details on sculptures, a variety of light fixtures, and architectural details on buildings. I've wandered into public buildings I've never been in before, and discovered really elaborate ceilings and wall decor. Zooming in or out with the camera restricts my view, or focuses it, on details I was oblivious to before. The combination of walking and photography is relaxing and creative on a completely different level than writing!
It's good to remember that even if we find ourselves in a stalled line of traffic, or unexpectedly sitting in a hospital waiting room, we can put our mind to work, allowing ourselves to feel creative and to collect information we can later use in our writing.
It may not be perfection, but it is progress.
What do you do to maintain your muse when life interrupts your flow? Share?