I’ve got it!
Early September always makes me think about new stationery: all those sharp pencils and lovely notebooks, ready for a new term. Picture me today: the blank page, a flashing cursor, staring out the window, sighing, chewing my pencil. So often I sit in the shed like this, and – well – nothing. There’s just nothing in my head, except mundane thoughts about what to have for dinner. Where’s my muse gone? Do I even have one?
While we’re asking questions: where do ideas come from? I read recently about a writer who was walking along one day and a novel ‘arrived in her head, fully formed’. So she rushed home and got it all down. Envy is ill-advised, I know, but what on earth? I’ve walked along many roads and not once has a book simply ‘arrived’ in my head. It’s quite empty, on occasion, so surely there’s room for even a small manuscript?
Inspiration seems to strike when you least expect it: in the shower, in a traffic jam, or while doing something entirely different. Why does the brain work like this? Try too hard, and nothing happens. Stop trying, and suddenly the ideas flow.
And I’ve also realised that the lightbulb moment is not the hardest bit: it’s wrestling this bright idea into some sort of shape. I’m still writing the plan, and chapter outlines, for my non-fiction book idea, and it looked so beautiful in my head, when inspiration struck (yes, when I least expected it, I think I was doing the dishes at the time) but now it’s an ugly mess, with paper everywhere and scratched out lines of text. Whose idea was this again?
Creatives have various tricks to use when the well runs dry, but I need to be careful about seeking this elusive inspiration – not for me the opium-soaked dreamscapes of the Romantic poets. I’ll try, instead, to harness stillness (think Newton’s ‘a-ha’ moment as an apple fell on his head). Patience is a virtue and I’ve got it in spades these days.