Yup, I am in a rut, it happens to us all. Anyone claiming that it will never happen to them is lying to you, there is no exception to that rule. We will all face it, whether we are in creative more, in production mode, in management mode or in operation mode. Rut is a dangerous thing, it tends to precede burnout for some. You see rut is not always dull, it is not always repetitive, but the brain sees a return to similar enough settings to treat it that way and it comes across as dull and/or repetitive. But there is a much larger issue in play and I cannot define it.
For me it started with one of the series I was writing. I got to the stage that I wanted to up the ante and add to the flavour of Greek mythology. So my mind wandered all over the field and I suddenly remembered an old (very old) lesson. You see organised crime and corrupt officials have the same flaw, the same weakness. It is ‘unfathomable loss’. So even if they have no issues stealing from you. When you start killing their children they go all huffy and puffy on these innocent kids, however they never considered your innocence when they stole from you and there lies the rub. But that setting is also dangerous because the main player gets ‘changed’ in the process, no matter how close he is related to Hades. As such I started to recall one of the lost episodes (I truly forgot where I put them). You see, you can orchestrate a player, you can expose them to the social media (with images and YouTube footage) hoping that one of the caught players will lose their mind and kill for you. You can take strife and do the killing yourself and kills those corrupt protection people as well. But the rut starts when that becomes repetitive. You need to change the menu, even though the act remains the same the journey to these acts can alter, and for me there is the added setting of taking a Greek take on the events. The adulterous female party can be thrown in that Turkish cave (formerly Greek) and let the change to a Medusa be the act where her lover the corrupt politician ends up relying on mercy which will never come and as a statue he will be as dead as anything else and placing that statue in the garden of a certain enabler should create the right tone. Not only can he explain the statue, but when they examine the statue he would be in much warmer waters than he would be happy with. And that is merely the first three players. I need a few more, but then the rut set in. Avoiding the repetitive is essential, as such looking for Greek solutions might not make the right cocktail, even though it feels right. There were a few options, but I wanted to keep that player out of the equation until much later (like the season 2 cliffhanger).
So the rut that I fight is against relying on the repetitive, the mundane and the creation based on existing paths. Now I could hand him an accuracy International AX338, but that is out of character. But it would be a tool that the protective details have access to and we only need to change the ammunition for one with more ‘bang’, an altered bullet and the bolt system would end up seeking refuge in the skull of the shooter. Yes, that might work, but I would need to check some elemental engineering principles (which will take some time). And that is one problem solved, but like the old Greek dramas, I need something with fireworks, like a gift, but not the gift, the wrapping becomes the killer, so it needs to be fun enough so that the reader sees the gift and sees the menace that the gift represents, even as the wrapping will be the killer in the room, yes that might work.
Still two solutions to find and doing this whilst I fight the rut of the matter is not the greatest setting for any creative mind, but there I am ploughing ahead trying to change the stage, change the setting and change the speed of things in motion. It is what it is. That is the danger of rut too, relying on yourself is dangerous, because what the mind sees as different could merely be a change of perspective and that is an additional danger that every creative mind faces. And in that I am no different than any other creative mind. That too matters (for me at least).
So whilst I try to fight the rut of the game, I might do some gaming in the process of working things out. It always worked in the past.