Today, I have been moodling.
Mooching. Pottering. Puttering. Loafing. Fiddling. Wandering. Pootling.
It looks like I am doing nothing very important from the outside, or at least nothing creatively productive. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Brenda Ueland, in her superb book ‘If you want to write’ (hardly bettered since it was published in 1938), calls creative revelations ‘little bombs’.
“You may find that the little bombs quietly burst in you when you are doing other things – sewing, or carpentering, or whittling, or playing golf, or dreamily washing dishes.” (p45)
“…So you see, the imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. Therse people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas…but they have no slow, big ideas. And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.” (p32)
Ueland knew that we need to time to contemplate, to think and reflect, to be alone with ourselves, but also time to just let things percolate, soak in and mingle. We may not look like we are working on our novel when we are washing up. We may not even be thinking about it consciously. But there it is, fizzing away behind our eyes, collecting connections, accumulating mass like a growing snowball tumbling down a mountain.
We are incubating miracles.
We need to moodle to charge our brains, to collect impressions, to drink from the well. However, there is another reason to moodle. What happens when the well is dry?
This comes back to self care, which I wrote about in an earlier post. There are always going to be times of creative drought in our lives. There will be times when life gets in the way, or when we are so busy dealing with our personal stuff that there is no energy left over to flow out into creation.
It is crucial to know that that is alright. It happens. It will pass.
And when these droughts occur, and to prevent them if you can, you need to moodle. Have a nap. Potter about. Paint your toenails. Fix that squeaky gate. Go window shopping. Give yourself a break, literally and metaphorically. Resting will fill the well up again.
This is why I don’t really believe in writers block. I think that either you are exhausted, or you are stopping yourself from creating out of fear. If the latter is the case, you need to explore those fears, and work on them in your journal. If the former, you need to let go of guilt, accept the creative season you are in, and lie around wiggling your toes until your brain is sufficiently rested, and finally ready to come up with a new ‘Aha!’ moment.
I urge you to read Ueland’s peerless book, whether you are a writer or not. It is full of incredibly sensible advice for anyone who means to create.
I also urge you to take some moodling time this week. Book it in your diary. Tell the family to leave you alone in the bath tonight. Go and lie in the park in the sun. Not every expedition has to be an Artist Date. Sometimes, its good just to refill the well.