I have been stewing and stewing over the short (no more than 250 words) blurb for the back cover of my novel. I wrote the novel and it is over 60,000 words, so writing 250 words about it should be walk in the park. Right? Wrong! I have been working on it for much of the past week, on and off, and I have discovered something about the creative process, or at least my creative process. It can't be rushed. Ideas need time to percolate through my brain. I need time to do nothing, or at least appear to do nothing. I have spent much of the past week reading and puttering around the house, all the while giving occasional thoughts to the problem of the blurb. I have written tentative drafts, worked on the drafts, disliked them all, and gone back to cleaning a pond or scooping litter boxes or whatever.
And then finally, last night as I was heading off to bed, the words just popped into my head! I quickly raced back to the computer and wrote a whole new draft, from a very different starting point. Oh, it was rough, but it was so much better (in my opinion at least) than anything I'd written so far that I went to bed a happy camper. This morning I have just puttered around, coming back to re-read my draft every half hour or so, tweaking a word or phrase here and there, before doing laundry or having breakfast or tending the dogs. And I think I have something now that I can live with. As soon as I find that I have had several re-reads without any changes I will send it off to my publisher and feel very satisfied with myself.
I have done the same thing with quilting where I have just cogitated on various patterns and ideas, fabric and themes, without appearing to "go" anywhere, but suddenly it all falls into place. I am not sure if this is what Brenda Ueland means by moodling when she says, "So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering," but it is what I think she is getting at. The subconscious keeps working on ideas even when or maybe even especially when, we relax and let our minds wander.
In our society which is very goal oriented, having down time where I am not getting anything particular done and where the day goes by with only apparently aimless puttering to show for it makes me feel as if the time has been wasted. I need to be doing, or so I tell myself, but the older I get, the more I realize that my body as well as my mind needs down time and while I can work under pressure, I can't create under pressure. The creative process depends on having the time and the ability to moodle, and that time spent in moodling is actually very productive, as counter-intuitive as that seems. If you are interested in this concept, there is an e-course in August run by Fiona and Kaspa at Writing Our Way Home which is designed to help us find our creative process and develop the skill of moodling.
Now that my blurb is nearly done, I have quilt patterns to moodle on and then November is not that far away; I had better start moodling about my next novel so I am ready to hit the deck running when National Novel Writing Month returns. What is your creative process? How do you recharge your creative juices? Are you a moodler?