Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Be still and know

Day 7 of not writing.

I hadn't planned to take this much of a break. But every time I think about sitting down with my notebook again, outlining, writing, or breaking down scenes, stress washes over me and I decide to give myself another day or two. Clearly I needed a bit of a break.

I've been thinking about being still as opposed to being active. Sometimes for all the outlining, writing, and breaking down scenes, I can't arrive at any ideas. Other times, when I'm not thinking about anything beyond walking through the forest, or sitting in the bath, or cooking dinner, everything makes itself clear.

Last week I wasn't sure if I was going to continue with Project Fun for a while, or jump back to work on Project Demo. Then Friday I had an idea how to make Project Demo work. I wasn't actively thinking about it. A book I read recently helped, but the idea never occurred to me while I was reading. It occurred to me while I was hanging laundry. Being still (at least, not actively searching for an answer).

So I've spent the past few days letting the idea percolate. I've been poking at it, questioning it, reading some other, similar books. Yesterday I felt I had so many ideas inside me, I finally put pen to paper and made a list of all I had figured out.

Now? It's a misty, chilly morning. I think I'll take another walk, puzzle through some more. One of these mornings I'm going to wake up itching to write. Unafraid. Until then, I'm taking it slowly, and trying to be still.

What do you do when you're not actively writing? Do you have a hard time forcing yourself to be still (mentally or physically)?

*Note: The picture is mine, taken from Bath Spa University's campus. Love a campus with some sheep!*


  1. Anne, I'm of the belief that writers shouldn't be writing all the time. I think the down time is essential, to fill the well as it were. Yes, like you, I jot down loads of lists, ideas, snip-its of whatever. Some help, some don't. Some come to fruition, some don't. I like how you're giving yourself permission to walk, do laundry, and all the other quotidian pursuits. Enjoy your walks :)

  2. Since I don't know where ideas really come from, I imagine they come from the idea sprinkler... Sometimes I have to go out and turn it on, but mostly, it does its own thing.
    So like you, there are dry spells. I will encourage any writer not to be wedded to the 'write every day' mantra. That in itself is not always a help, and often a hindrance.
    P.S. love those sheep.

  3. Andrea: Thank you. Even though I've given myself permission to be still, it's awful hard. Nice to have your affirmation in it!

    Mirka: I love the image of an idea sprinkler! What fun! Over and over in this business, I come back to the importance of just trusting ourselves. Hard as it is sometimes.

    And yes, the sheep are definitely a plus of life in England! ;)

  4. I do have trouble being still sometimes. It's easy to fall into the trap of always thinking that I have to be writing. Reading is usually what works best for me, because once I start, I'm sucked in and happy to be transported for a while.

  5. Yes, I think it's so important to take time off to think and be quiet. Some friends of mine call it "moodling". :)

    I have been guilty of jumping into projects too early because I was afraid to be still, so I think you are wise to listen to yourself.

    By the way, I've been offline so haven't seen your new blog digs. What a great look. Very clean and bright.

  6. I love sheep! We have had them next door for years now in the summer/fall and in September I saw a newborn! He was so cute. His mom was lying down resting and (darn it! I missed it!) about an hour later I saw her with him and her second baby grazing on the far side of the field. I had watched her resting before birthing the second one, and had no idea at the time!

    Oh - what? Your blog is about writing you say? ahem

    I simmer the ideas, poke them occasionally to see if they're ready yet, scribble in my notebooks....

  7. Ruth: Yes, that, exactly! We feel like we always have to keep pushing ourselves, even when the pushing isn't working. And it's funny, I thought I had plenty to read on my shelves, but this past week I have been plowing through books.

    Bridgette: Moodling is a great word (as I think I said in response to one of your other comments... ;) ). It's so hard to be patient and trust ourselves, isn't it? Much easier to trust work. I know I jumped into Project Demo too early, which I think might be the root of a lot of these problems... Well, make mistakes and learn from them, huh?

    Oh, and thanks for the blog compliments! It's a bit of a wip, itself, but glad to know it looks good!

    Elisabeth: Hah! We're we talking about writing?! :)

    What an incredible thing to catch next door to your house! Maybe one of these days you'll manage to be in the right place at the right time again.

  8. Lately I'm so busy doing other things, it's hard to have the time just to sit and do nothing, and yet that is one of my very favorite things to do. I LOVE having the time to sit and think -- just letting ideas float through my head. The only good thing about being this busy is that when I DO have the time to write, I've never enjoyed writing so much. I'm sure if I suddenly had five days a week to write in, I'd actually write less.

    We've got loads of sheep around us too, and our local school is full of them. It amazed me at first, but now it seems perfectly natural.

  9. Sometimes you just need the time for the idea to cement in your mind before writing.

    That picture looks so serene. Reminds me of my childhood growing up in the country. :)

  10. Mary: How funny, I was just thinking the other day about when I was working and how much I looked forward to my writing time. It really is a neat trick, making you really appreciate things you usually take for granted! The sheep do seem natural, but still lovely to see. I wonder why they're so much more prevalent here than in the US.

    Karen: That's exactly it. I just keep going over the same ideas again and again, deeper each time, and eventually it will all hold together and make sense.

    Funny how a single picture can make us all so nostalgic!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.