Weave it in

I'm not talking about hair-dos. I'm talking about unconscious creativity. The point where you find yourself sitting down to write, without thinking about it, without dreaming about it. You just sit down and do it.

It's a no-brainer. If you do something enough times, it becomes habitual. If you make yourself sit down to write, just for an hour, say; first one day, and then the next - something remarkable begins to happen. Rather than your inner-procrastinator tempting you away with all those other delicious things you could be doing (clearing out the under-stairs cupboard, or worse - defrosting the fridge), the desire to get down and be creative wins the day. And you didn't even have to think about it!

I have so far only managed to do this invisible weaving with Morning Pages. Pretty soon after waking up, a strange compulsion carries me over to 'the book,' a fresh page is turned, the date and time is written (which is always something like 8amish, because I'm never in sight of a clock), and off I go.

I began to think about this unconscious wheel turning, of finding yourself doing something simply because that is what you always do, on a baking French evening last week. I had the window open, the shutters closed, and was typing away (on an email, not on some Proustian tome), when a guttural, 'Oh merde!' floated hotly up to me.

Never one to turn my back on good material, I opened the shutters a fraction, and peeked out. I was just in time to see Mr V (the neighbouring farmer) storm off towards the gate that leads to his small field of vegetables. I soaked in his attire, of elasticated shorts so old they were held up by a belt, and all his other clothing exactly as they would have been had he been in trousers: shirt, socks and old boots. But no sign of what had made him fume.

The view from my window this morning

Then I saw it. A large round water-tank, sat at the corner of the barn, being filled by a hose. Only, it wasn't. The hose, in its gushing eagerness, had wriggled loose, and was now merrily spraying up and over the side. Five minutes went by (during which I debated running out to hold the hose in place), before Mr V reappeared through the gate.

On seeing the hose, he let out a volley of expletives I only wish I could have understood, and marched over to grapple with the hose. After he'd set about fixing it to a large stone, he stood back, watched it for a moment, adjusted its position. Then he set off once more to his field, a disbelieving shake of his head, to where he had been trying to water his vegetables with the second hose that ran out of the tank.

This is what Mr V does. He tends his livestock, his pig and goats and chickens, and his small field of artichokes and asparagus and potatoes. And he does it all, without thinking. He will always have to deal with errant hoses, a tractor that's sluggish to start, goats that get stuck in fences (see earlier post). But all of these actions are woven in to the fabric of his daily existence. At the end of the day, he may still be muttering, but he's done it all. And tomorrow he will do it all again.

And from the other side, a Hoopoe sitting on a wire

This is what I mean by weaving the creative process in, so that it becomes an unconscious action of your day. There will be hoses that spray in the wrong direction, but still the veg will have been watered, and the whole process kept moving steadily on.

Don't forget to check out the magic weave from last week's W&P:

Monday's Ask a Picture Book Editor, shows the whole process of Poo in the Zoo, by Steve Smallman & Ada Grey being published
Tuesday's Ten Minute Blog Break, bursting with enough good reads for a seriously good tea-break
Wednesday's Proofreading Tips - this month, Catriona delivers a fascinating review of Accidence Will Happen: the non-pedantic guide to English usage, by Oliver Kamm
Thursday's Event report, delivered by Jo Dearden, on the Manchester Children's Book Festival Panel - up for discussion was the thought-provoking questions: When are you going to write for grown-ups?
Friday's Feature, covered Sarah Underwood's report of the recent SCBWI Professional Series Industry Insiders talk, discussing picture books and young readers

Nancy Saunders is the Editor of W&P. You can find some of her short stories here, and on Twitter @nancyesaunders

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