Sit And Stare, Productively

I’m a winter writer. Endless gray, rainy days suit me very well. I like to sit and stare out the window, watching the sky weep, my brain tuned to that expectant humming that the next sentence will bring itself out of.

Maybe this is why I have, whenever I could in my adult life, built time into each day for dreaming, and insisted that the Prince and Princess have unstructured time each day. I’m of the opinion that it’s those moments of blankness that helps young (and older) brains catch up with themselves, and is also a necessary component of the creative process–the “creative pause.”

When you’re rushing to a solution, your mind will jump to the easiest and most familiar path. But when you allow yourself to just look out the window for 10 minutes – and ponder – your brain will start working in a more creative way. It will grasp ideas from unexpected places. It’s this very sort of unconscious creativity that leads to great thinking. When you’re driving or showering, you’re letting your mind wander because you don’t have to focus on anything in particular. If you do carve out some time for unobstructed thinking, be sure to free yourself from any specific intent. (Scott Belsky)

Part of why I prize that humming in my head so highly is because I’ve lived with people who have an absolute instinct for knowing when one’s brain is approaching that cycle, and for some reason they want to disrupt it in any way possible. (WHY they do this is a whole ‘nother ball of blog post wax. Let’s carry on.) Of course, it could be that I am picky and hard to live with. (Who isn’t?) But I’ve since become grateful for that harsh everyday annoyance. It was invaluable training in getting the creative pause in anyhow, triggering the blank expectant humming at a moment’s notice, slipping myself into that interstitial space within an eyeblink. It takes practice, but it can be done–and often, I surface knowing What Comes Next in a story.

My point (you knew I had one, right?) is that your faculties might do their best work with a little bit of white noise. Not too much–then you just drool all over your keyboard, and this, while not incredibly expensive if one buys cheap keyboards, is still annoying and embarrassing. But finding a way to fit even five minutes of just sitting and thinking, or sitting and staring (not at the television, Christ, throw that thing out the window or at least only use it for films) into your day can reap you rewards all out of proportion, especially when it comes to any creative endeavor. And getting into the habit of protecting that time will help you develop the skills necessary to protect your writing time, tooth and nail, against all comers. Which is exponentially more important…

…but that’s another blog post.

Over and out.

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