I read this thing a while ago… I can’t find it now, of course, but it talked about the creative process as a series of ebbs and flows. About the importance of shutting up, sometimes. Of sitting quietly and listening, and letting your mind drift where it will. The analogy, I think, was a forest in winter — the quiet, bare period that does the groundwork for the colour and chaos of summer.
It’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to shake the idea that creation should be constant and regimented, especially if you’re working towards a goal, or you create for a job. (Or both.)
And to a degree, that matters. Butt In Chair is the only writing method that’s ever got me all the way through a draft. It’s work, and the work needs to be done, day by day.
But not every day.
Sometimes, my creative brain takes a holiday. It shuts up shop and vanishes, and no matter how hard I knock, no one answers. The windows get dusty and leaves build up against the doorframe. And I worry.
Oh, I worry.
But, if I leave it, that dark, rust-limned building on that narrow little street, and I go to the park or out with friends and I live my life and I don’t fret about it too much, eventually I’ll be walking past and the lights will be on. Books will be set out on a trestle outside, each one etched with a shiny idea, and my characters will be browsing inside, in cosy corners and darkened nooks.
(My writing brain looks exactly like Black Books, FYI.)
And I’ll want to go in. So badly. Each of those ideas will seem like magic made real, and all of my works in progress, my hidden things and half-done things and tiny maybe ought-to-be-things, will seem bright and beautiful and ready to be picked up and carried home and loved and held and worked on.
Sometimes I’m empty of words, and I worry that I’ve used them all up. And then they creep back, creep up. They peek around corners and worm their way through cracks until they’re a torrent, an outpouring, everywhere. Running off my tongue and out of my fingers faster than I can keep up with them.
I think I do use them up. Like the forest, they have a season. They dry up and float away and their crisp, dry skeletons make a house for summer to grow in. A hot, bright set of new ideas, born in the dark and the quiet. Waiting for me to shut up and listen for them.