I just spent a month in Denmark, where I pitched 10 stories to 10 different outlets, resulting in two new publications. Once again, traveling has proven to be a mental cleanse, spirit lifter and story generator. I am not usually one to dole out writing advice, but I am feeling especially inspired, so here goes.

It is the writer’s job to show society how to see things differently, and sometimes that means changing our own perspective.

Here are ten ways to shift your own point of view and breathe new life into your projects:

  • Stand on your head. No, really—any yoga teacher will tell you that most people are perfectly capable of doing a headstand, but it’s a pose that strikes fear in the hearts of many people. Try it—against the wall, with the help of an instructor.
  • Learn a new language. Studies show that learning a language foreign to you can rewire your brain. It might be just the cognitive jumpstart you’ve been looking for.
  • Take an online class. It doesn’t have to be writing-related. Just learning something new in the safety of the general anonymity of the Internet can stimulate the brain.
  • Hire a life coach. Professional athletes have coaches. Aspiring musicians hire experienced teachers. Why can’t writers get the same one-on-one attention from an expert to help in achieving personal goals?
  • Start a local writers’ workshop. Giving feedback to fellow writers is generous while receiving feedback from your peers is more valuable than you know.
  • Try stand-up comedy. I recently took an eye-opening workshop with award-winning screenwriter Corey Mandell. He stated that there are two types of writers: narrative and structural. His integrative method strives to make us stronger wherever we are weak. Narrative writers tend to be the kind good at dialogue and emotion, but not as good at structure. He recommended stand-up comedy as a counterbalance to this type of circular thinking, since it relies on timing, beats and planning. For writers who are structurally strong, he recommended trying improv.
  • Read someone else’s work. As an English professor I edited more horrible papers than I care to count, but I think it made me a better writer in the long run. Offer to edit a friend’s cover letter or mentor an aspiring young writer.
  • Do something else. Take a break. The writer is never really on vacation, so ideas are bound to appear while serving coffee, riding a bike, babysitting, mowing the lawn, or, as Thoreau often did, going for a long walk.
  • Take a trip. That’s what this post started with. Travel turns you upside down, showing you the world in a way you’ve never seen. It can make you uncomfortable or fill you with wonder. Can’t travel far away? Try a weekend away in a town nearby. Ask friends and relatives if their guesthouse on the farm could serve as a weekend writer’s studio. Volunteer for a week at a commune. Go to a monastery for a silent weekend retreat. A friend of mine just did this and finished her memoir while 8 months pregnant, by the way. She mailed it off to a publisher 3 days before her baby was born then received an email for a meeting with them when her baby turned 3 months old. True story. How’s that for inspiring?
  • If you really can’t get away from home for more than a day, do what Natalie Goldberg suggests in her book Writing Down the Bones—become a “tourist in your own town.” Notice the things no one else does. There are stories all around you. Use them. Change them. Write them.