When that happens, I need a change of scene, a creativty kick-start. As a writer and publisher, I can only wallow around in research so long (reading books, following internet links, getting side-tracked with interesting stuff that doesn't actually go anywhere!) What to do?
I've found two ways to give myself that whack upside the head that can clear the cobwebs and get me back to productive work again, and both have to do with other people.
First tactic: Find a craft show where there is an abundance of creativity and eye candy. Go look at what artists and craftspeople are doing - they are all living their passion, and some of it will certainly rub off on me. A favorite is the ACC show in Baltimore, of course, which Margaret Rome and I visited last month. A few minutes in Josh Simpson's booth, soaking up the glorious colors of his glass and chatting with this very approachable artist, clears my mind and feeds my soul. I also could not resist the work of Barbara Sebastian who makes exquisite small porcelain pots with carved cat beads on top; I loved the celadon green, but this one in earth tones with the mother and kitten came home with me.
Second tactic: Find a group of people who are doing what I do, but doing their own version. In this case, it's a group of independent publishers in the MidAtlantic area. We get together several times a year for sharing information and acting as a mastermind group for each other. The room fairly crackles with creativity! And I come home with new ideas that move me in a new direction. This time I presented the group with a question about what my next Book of Days topic should be. I gave them three choices, and they all looked at me with that "Are you really so dense?" look. Then almost in unison they said, "Dogs!" Yep - even though The Cat Lover's Book of Days is popular, I actually had not put The Dog Lover's Book of Days on my list! It is now, and I'm starting to collect the dog names, stories, and photos that will become my next Book of Days.
Finding and being around creative people works for me...what have you found to kick-start your creative juices?
Publisher of The Cat Lover's Book of Days and Zen and the Art of Negotiation: Successful Negotiation for People Who Hate to Negotiate.