I think writer Brenda Ueland had it right.
She said, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”
It’s all about play and slowing down.
Writing is enjoyable. Even during a long dry spell. Even when the words feel heavy and meaningless. Even during these times, it is important to remember that I do like to write.
When I don’t rush. When I slow down like I do for any mindful activity like walking or meditating. When I slow down to let the words fall good or bad on my page.
Writing is joyful.
In my Developing a Writing Habit class, I tell students to think of writing as not just one more thing you have to do. It’s what you choose to do. It’s what you want to do.
Writing is about exploring, expressing and playing. Writing is about making discoveries, solving problems, creating new worlds, and feeling a whole spectrum of emotions.
Never make it seem like it’s just a chore that you need to do or you’ll never do it.
Yes, there will be times when it’s frustrating and difficult and you won’t feel like doing it.
But hang in there just a little longer and things will change.
They always do.
And when it does the magic of writing will return.
As Sherlock Holmes once said to Watson, “The game is afoot.”
One day I happened to come across a small listing advertising a Sherlock Holmes exhibit at the University of Minnesota where I work. Being a fan of the detective stories, I decided I would go to the exhibit at lunch. It was just a short walk over the bridge to the Elmer L Anderson Library– a place I had never ventured into before.
And why would I? There was nothing interesting on the outside. It was just an ordinary brown brick building.
But I soon learned that the library is home to the world’s largest collection of Sherlock Holmes related material. The exhibit was only a tiny selection of 60,000 collected items that included books, journals, and letters; scrapbooks, audio and visual recordings, and pop culture artifacts like his deer stalker hat, curved pipe and magnifying glass.
How many years have I been at the University of Minnesota and I did not know this? I left feeling inspired and excited.
It was a happy reminder to keep exploring those unknown corners of my world and that magical places are closer than I think and behind ordinary doors. New adventures like these will certainly open up new writing ideas for me. But I’ll never find them if I don’t keep looking.
Think about the unknown places right in your own neighborhood. Walk a different path, explore a new building, restaurant or park. Go on your own adventure.
To quote Holmes, “Come Watson, come. The game is afoot.”