Open road clears path to creativity

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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I miss the open road.

That’s where I do my best thinking.

The hum of the pavement, music of choice pumping through the speakers and an ice-cold Dr Pepper create a combination that puts my thoughts in order. It releases my creativity and allows me to better brainstorm story ideas.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

Long drives have been in short supply in recent years, and I miss them. They fill a creative pool from which I can draw … and folks, the water is getting low.

But with summer in sight and a vacation on the calendar, I look forward to hitting the road and clearing my head.

Former jobs required a bit more driving for story assignments, and I even commuted to Fort Worth for a while when we first moved to Decatur. Throw in a couple of weekend road trips every month, and I logged a lot of hours either behind the wheel or in the passenger seat during that time.

But since the kids are in school now and involved in various activities, we’re on the run more but actually on the road less.

My driving these days consists of five-minute jaunts between our home, the school and the office, not to mention side trips to church, grocery store, dry cleaners, bank… well, you get the idea.

I’m grateful to work locally – five minutes from home and the kids’ school. But sometimes I do long for a few more minutes between the chaos at the office and the hectic routine at home because I’ve noticed my thought pattern has transformed with my driving routine.

It’s difficult to focus on anything for more than five minutes as I realize between destinations that my son left his glasses at home, we forgot to feed the cat, or I’m struck with fear that I forgot to roll on deodorant.

I’m never in the car long enough to mentally address those issues and then move on to the big ideas.

In fact, it seems to take a good 30 minutes into any trip to clear my head, forget about the mundane details of the day and start the thought process that fuels my writing and generally rejuvenates me.

When the kids were babies, I would occasionally go for an afternoon drive if they wouldn’t nap. But these days, gas prices don’t really allow for the casual drive – at least not on a regular basis.

My husband has suggested I could achieve the same thing by walking or running, and he’s right.

It’s about the solitude. Whether you’re putting your foot to the pedal or the pavement, you’re isolated from your daily routine. There are no distractions. No piles of laundry threatening to wrinkle beyond recognition. No floors to sweep. No dishes to do.

No meetings. No newsroom calls.

Just the luxury of having a thought, maybe even more than one. And if you’re lucky, stringing those together into a coherent idea or plan.

My affinity for the road has led me to consider a long-haul trucking retirement plan, but driving all day, every day might lead to exhaustion, not enlightenment.

In the meantime, I vow to make this summer one of road trips – both long and short – and will return in September with a clear head and a collection of story ideas.

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