I was in my 40’s when my 5-year-old daughter taught me how to tie my shoes.
I had always tied my shoes using a twisting, convoluted, bowline-like process. That’s how I was taught and how I’ve always tied my shoes. One day my daughter came home beaming.
“I learned how to tie my shoes today,” she announced. And she showed me.
I was gobsmacked. It never occurred to me that there was, (a) another way to tie shoes, and (b) it would be easier. Actually, it never occurred to me to even think about it.
Ever since then, whenever I encounter a challenge I have trouble cracking or I see I’m approaching something in “the usual way,” I think, “There is always more than one way to tie my shoes.” (Google “how to tie shoes” and you’ll find there are more than two ways.)
This is a story I tell students when they are stuck with a piece of writing. Approach it differently. Delete what you have and reinvent it entirely. Tempted to use a cliche? Come up with something fresh and unique instead.
Find a new way to tie your shoes.
Creative people do it naturally. Me, it took 40 years.