27 Nov Why writers need time to dream
A friend recently sent me an email asking when I had time to ‘dream and write?’ She’s been trying to connect up and I’ve been busy running workshops or busy mentoring or busy working on my new website.
Busy. It’s the catchword for our age. ‘I don’t have time to…’ You fill in the gap. We all make excuses. I know I do.
So when I had a chance to go away for two weeks, I went into automatic pilot and planned a full writing schedule. 1000 words a day on my new novel, some afternoon slots for my memoir.
I went to India, where I’ve been before. It’s like a second home. The internet connection is pretty reliable. It’s a comfortable space to write and where I’ve written chunks of The Pagoda Tree.
The day before leaving I thought, am I mad? Do I really have to keep to this schedule and stay as busy as I am in Sydney? I don’t have any urgent deadlines to finish a book at the moment so… the answer is no.
Instead I bought two new notebooks and some good pens. I even bought a Parker ink pen to get into the mood. I also brought along my battered copy of Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualisation which I haven’t used for over a decade.
I decided I wanted to make writing feel like discovery – which is how it was before it became a profession. I wanted to doodle, to write long hand, to try ideas out, to waste time and explore byways and cul-de-sacs. I wanted to get out of my right brain and into my left brain. This allows the sub-conscious, the dreaming part, to take over.
Writing is unusual because it requires both hemispheres of our brain to work. When we stay in the rational side, we lose access to deeper ideas or the bigger picture.
Planning a novel or a book or even a short story requires you to think about the landscape and the flowers dotted along the path. I experimented with both.
I dipped into Creative Visualisation. I re-read parts of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – a leading advocate of ‘writing as discovery’. I drew character arcs, used coloured pens and filled two notebooks.
It seemed life conspired with me. The internet didn’t work. I couldn’t charge my laptop. And I’ve come back feeling more immersed in my projects than I have for months.
So… as we countdown to Christmas… I encourage you all to schedule some dreaming time into the break ahead. You may write less words but I can (almost) guarantee you’ll have a different perspective on your work. You’ll feel re-inspired for 2015.