Bookstores: a creative tool

I mentioned in a previous entry that I wander in bookstores to refocus my thoughts when I’m stuck or overwhelmed. To me, it seems like the obvious solution, but I’m learning that most people don’t use bookstores in that way. They actually go there to buy things, or something else equally useless. These people are missing out on an incredible tool. A bookstore is a room full of books. The more books, the better. Books are collections of writing that someone with money decided to publish. That usually (but certainly not always) means that there is some credible information in each book. These collections of credible information are organized on bookshelves with other collections of different credible information on similar subjects. It sounds like an ordinary thing, but the implications for a creative person are tremendous. All you need to do when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed is walk into a bookstore and wander. Walk by all the shelves. Browse. Poke at different books. Eventually you’ll find yourself compelled to a certain area. Pull up a stool and camp out there for a bit. After flipping through a handful of books on this shelf, you’ll start to form the answers you’ve been looking for, even if you never formed the questions. If you simply open your mind to the possibility of discovery, the collective wisdom of a hundred thousand writers — living or dead — will pour into your awareness in subtle spurts, and you’ll leave with a place to go. Well, at least it works for me.

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