What non-writing activity helps the most with your writing?

Meaning, when you're working, but not actually typing (or scribbling), what is it you do that always keeps the gears in the back of your head grinding on the story?

I have things I do when I absolutely DON'T want to think about writing in any way, and then there's the things when I don't want to think about writing, but I want my subconscious to be dealing with whatever I'm working on. This is what I'm asking you about.

Fishing is one of the best for me. And playing the guitar. And watching the Food Network.

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Road trips are number one. Jigsaw puzzles, hitting golf balls, cooking, walking the dog. Things I don't get to do very often.

But what I like best is daydreaming out a plot--sitting in my office or in my living room without my computer and just letting my mind play in the quiet.
I zone out on the bus on the way to and from work. It's easy to block out what's going on around me and just think about what's going to happen next in the book. Same when I'm working out in the morning. The repetition of the elliptical machine is enough to make your head explode if you don't have something to think about.
I have plenty of ways of avoiding writing. I've become expert in all of them, but more recently I surf the 'net. I tell myself that my subconscious is indeed writing the book while I'm doing that, but I don't really believe it.
Sleeping and dreaming works for me, especially when I have a problem. I give my subconscious instructions to come up with answers to specific questions. Eventually, though not immediately I get what I need. I stopped dead after I finished the most recent draft of my current work in progress, vegged out most of yesterday afternoon and evening, and awoke this morning without an answer. Some time after hitting snooze twice with no answer, I took a shower, went to the keyboard and knew what I had to do as soon as I opened the file.
To think about a problem - housework, or yardwork, or showering.
To avoid thinking - playing with my kids. My preschooler is all about "Why?" right now, so I have to focus on him. That lets my subconscious go to town.
Yeah, but there's no goats around here.
I tend to think through a lot of plot problems and come up with a lot of ideas in the shower. I'm looking for a waterproof laptop.
Maybe water has nothing to do with it. Maybe liberating yourself from your clothes frees the creative juices. I see a trend here.
I have never been able to walk around the block---ANY block---without encountering something or someone that kicks my brain into writer's mode. So WWJ (Writing While Jogging) works for me every time. I've solved plot problems, fleshed out character profiles, and written whole chapters this way, no lie. One trick, though: I have to leave the iPod at home.
Just listening to to other people tell their stories at the bar. Everybody's got a story to tell. I just translate.
Listening to music – the more eclectic the mix, the better. Eating large quantities of Bachman pretzels. Watching a movie you've already watched a thousand times before that never gets old, like Layer Cake or Heist. Or doing all three simultaneously. Amazing what the subconscious can do with just the right amount of rhythm, starch and visual stimulation.
...or Gymkata.


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