If that sounds a little off-the-wall to you, consider for a moment what writing is and what it accomplishes. As I have said many times, for me, when the facts are scattered like feathers in a pillow-fight, it’s writing that grabs each feather out of the air and nails it to the table. Writing it out has helped me through so many rough spots in my life, as well as when the pen goes dry in a novel.
If that’s true—and it is for me—then thinking irons out the wrinkled mind
Down time is a common suggestion to whatever stands in the way of creative work, whether that be painting, working out a successful choreography, getting past a bout of writer’s block or solving an engineering problem. And what is down time but an excuse to get out of the office or studio to lie down under a tree in the park and think? Some people meditate, others keep a journal, for me I head to the woods or the back of a horse.
Put aside the chatter of advice, watch some clouds form or ducks fly and free your mind. If Paul Simon is right and ‘there must be fifty ways to leave your lover,’ there are as many to clear your head. ‘Just step out the back, Jack and set yourself free.’
A free mind is never empty and a cluttered mind never free
But it’s open and being open to the silence of isolation allows some really off-the-wall ideas to seep in. Off the wall is seldom a solution, but it may lead to a whole string of whatabouts, whynots and maybies. No voice is there to criticize, no ego to intervene and no partner, co-creator or financial backer to see you naked.
So that’s my advice to being stuck or overwhelmed—after all, they’re two extremes of the same problem, either too many feathers or not a feather in sight.
Get yourself off into another Paul Simon location—‘the sound of silence.’
It’s the best creative space I know and I go there often. Find yours when you need a place to charge your batteries.