Tuesday, 29 January 2008
I had a fascinating conversation last night with a creative friend, an artist.
I was grumbling (I do that well…) about the constant noise in my head. The ‘need’ to work at editing, critiquing, running The Workhouse, planning workshops, running workshops, reading and feeding back to students, debating writing craft on a couple of other writing sites on the web, meeting up with my face to face writing group, making time to have one to ones with writing colleagues, embarking on learning about poetry with David,
And what am I NOT doing?
You’re there. I am not writing. Other than twiddles, flashes, the occasional longer short story.
Then, a ‘lightbulb moment’, applicable to me, and to a million kids, or more, and to every person who wants to be creative in any medium, but who fills their time because it's meant to be ‘a good thing’ so to do.
My friend told me of a talk she’d heard from children’s author Shirley Hughes, in which she bewailed the ‘loss of boredom’.
Boredom is bad, these days. Don’t let the kids be bored or they’ll do something dreadful. Don’t ‘do nothing’ yourself… you’ll get bored, and that’s awful. It’s a killer.
But Shirley Hughes was arguing the opposite.
We NEED to accept periods of ‘nothing’. Because it’s in those periods that creativity is at work at its most potent, and will bubble something to the surface, when you least expect it.
Think about it. Don’t ideas seem to pop up when you go for a quiet walk? Or when you are half asleep, in the early morning, or late at night? Or when you are driving? Ironing?
Kids need to daydream. Not have their every waking hour filled with noise, image, chatter. That leaves no room for the imagination to work.
Me, and my rushing around ‘being a writer’, actually stopping the process in its tracks!
A boy I met recently who wouldn’t accept that he could create a dialogue exchange between classical characters, because the film says….
A younger boy who got stuck in a storyline, and left the room. I thought he was frustrated, and had given up.
He came back ten minutes later. “I’ve got it! I know what happens next!”
“Wow,” I said. “What’s the secret?”
“I went for a walk…..”