On finding my writing muse at Home Depot


For those of you keeping score, you may have noticed that I have not posted a story in a little while.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

(Flickr: Andrew Malone)

(Flickr: Andrew Malone)

As the days have grown longer and spring has seeped into my part of the country, I often find myself lured by a chair in the sun and a glass of iced tea. I raise my face to the sky, soak up the prickly heat and think of nothing.

I bring my notepad – a real notebook with real paper – and a pencil to my son’s baseball games and swear I will jot down ideas for my next piece.

But, the trees and the breeze and the smell of damp grass always overtake me, lull me into a contented place of hits and misses, pitch counts and errors.

Read: In a writing slump? Then, swing for the fences

I have also succumbed to the urge to clean my house, purge closets and paint.

Funny thing about painting, though.

I love painting my house. I love the delicate pop and whoosh of freshly-opened can. I love swiping new color onto a tired wall. I love dabbing my brush into tiny nooks, then gently coaxing the overflow of color out of the crevice. I also love the way drawing my brush along a crease for a perfect edge silences my busy mind.

A few years ago, while standing in line to have my paint mixed at Home Depot, a woman in front of me turned around and asked, “So, what task are you trying to avoid today?”

The question surprised me, but I was ready with an answer.

“Well, I am a magazine writer. And I have an article that I probably should be working on. But, I decided I wanted to paint my bathroom instead.”

The woman laughed and shared that she, too, was a writer – a screenwriter – and she was planning on giving an old shed on her property a new look.

Within a week, she and I were driving up to Hollywood together to attend a networking breakfast for industry writers, actors, producers and directors. It’s amazing what a little home décor collaboration can do for your writing career.

Last week, I was paying for my paint purchases – again at Home Depot – eager to return home, pop open a new can and swipe my brush along my house’s drab exterior trim.

Then, you guessed it — a former writing colleague sweeps into my line having mistakenly left her earlier paint purchase behind at the checkout.

This time, I laughed and asked: “What writing task are you avoiding today?”

We chatted about our on-going projects and I was reminded once again to return to the page.

Taking that subtle cue, I am back.

Back to writing and thinking, dreaming and scheming, creating new pictures in my mind. Covering old with new. Infusing color into my narrative. Aiming for that perfect line. Coaxing words out of my soul. Searching for ways to get better. Always wanting to get better.

What are you doing to avoid writing today? And what’s it going to take to get you back on task?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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