So, you’ve gone out into the world with your eyes open and your notebook in hand. You’ve noticed your breath hanging in the brisk, raw air, watched the chickadees flitting around the feeder you’re always forgetting to fill, listened to the call and response of the crows, and felt your skin warm in the pocket of sun peeking through the hills. Or maybe you’ve overheard morsels of tempting chatter from the restaurant booth behind you, watched an impish, tangle-haired girl gleefully wreck her sand castle, or read the quietest, most delicate poem your favorite poet has ever created. Now, what?
Well, now you need time to let all these experiences settle inside you. And, you need time to stir them all up again.
The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
~ Brenda Ueland
We can’t fill our lives – and our minds – to the brim with no room left for creative ideas, for daydreaming, for idle musings. Once we replenish our well of inspiration, we have to let things swirl around for a bit, bump into each other and settle at the bottom in strange and intriguing patterns. Then, we have to dredge it all up. We have to use it.
As writers, we need time to dawdle, to wonder, to simply be. That’s when some of our most compelling work is done.
The hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your wife that lying on the sofa is work.
~ John Hughes
Lollygagging: Set a timer for a half hour, tell your family not to disturb you, and turn off your phone. Then, find a comfortable place and just lounge. Let your mind wander. Doesn’t it feel decadent? This is necessary work, though. Think back to your inspiration dates, reflect on the girl who annoyed you in fifth grade, wonder what the dog next door is barking about. Close your eyes and try to picture the stars. Imagine what it must have taken to produce the coffee cup you’re holding. Let your mind go where it will. Then, after the timer goes off, pull out a few sheets of paper and start freewriting.
We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.