Curiosity Killed the Story Trap
Let’s be honest. Sometimes life hits a standstill. It doesn’t matter if you are living your dream career or married to the love of your life or traveling to exotic locals on a regular basis, inertia settles in to even the most abundant of lifestyles. I like to call this the Story Trap. It’s where you have exercised all of your creative options in a particular arena and are going around in circles feeling unmotivated, bored, and lifeless. Some people stay in a Story Trap for YEARS.
Here’s a good example of how a Story Trap feels: Let’s say you’re unhappy in your current role and are looking for a new job. You keep going to the same job boards, talking to the same people, sending your resume and cover letter out in the same way only to be met with *career crickets*. No one is biting. No one is interested. You’re starting to think you’re fundamentally flawed. You lay awake in bed while the anxiety troll in your brain bumps into the same three walls over and over and over again. You don’t understand why you can’t see a way out. Your creative ideas are dead. You feel completely stuck, paralyzed by the reality of your life. You don’t think you’ll ever cut loose.
Been there before? Me too.
The good news is that there’s hope.
You can’t change your story with the same language that was used to write it.
Here’s what it all boils down to: Yep, you guessed it, CURIOSITY.
When you’re in the throws of a Story Trap, the best thing you can do is shake things up. It means getting a change of scenery.
Say you spend hours and hours looking out your window at the same damn tree. It always looks the same and you’re flipping sick of it. Nothing ever changes. You used to love that tree, now you’re bored to tears. One day, you get a strong urge to buy a pair of rose colored sunglasses. You sit down at your desk, look out at the old tree, sigh, put on your new glasses and, wait, hold on…. everything looks different! The leaves are suddenly fascinating, the branches have taken on a new life, it’s like you’ve stepping into another world. You feel a strong urge to run out and hug the tree, then maybe write a short story about it.
This is what following a curiosity can do for you. I don’t care if it’s something small like ‘I wonder what kind of butterfly that’ to something bigger like ‘I wonder what it would be like to live in Peru’. There is no curiosity too small to shake up your stagnant energy and get new ideas flowing. Your curiosity doesn’t have to have anything to do with your current predicament (Story Trap), it will infuse your life with new energy all the same.
Here are some examples of ways to dip your toe into a new curiosity ::
- Head to the library and read up on the subject of your curiosity
- Sign up for a class or online course
- Post about it to your Facebook community and see if anyone knows more about it
- Attend a meetup or event
- Take yourself to see your curiosity (museum, art gallery, concert, zoo, coffee shop, jewelry store, mountain, etc...)
- Write about it. Why are you drawn to it? Where did the curiosity come from? Is it something you loved as a child?
- Look it up on good ol' Google
Here's how I keep track of and explore my curiosities:
I carry a very small notebook around with me almost everywhere.
Anytime I am struck with a curious urge, I write the subject, question, or thought at the top of a new page. That’s it. Then, when I have more time, I choose a curiosity and dive into research. I fill the rest of the page with these notes.
A couple of my current curiosities are: alchemy, healing herbs, dance, green goddess salad dressing (yep, no curiosity too small or ridiculous!)
Here’s my prompt for you: What have you been ‘silently drawn to’ lately? If you can’t think of anything, try looking back to when you were a child. When we’re kids, we allow ourselves to indulge our curiosities more than we do when we’re adults. Think back, did you love baseball cards? Bugs? Watercolor? Comic strips? Personally, I loved rocks and gemstones and that curiosity has made a resurgence into my soul this year.
Also, get thee a Curious Notebook.