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Breathing space – a blog about creativity

Inspiration is unpredictable.

This morning I was leaning into a wardrobe to hang up an item of clothing when an idea popped into my head. I had to dash to the computer to tap out this little gem before it faded. Good job, too, because it’s transformed the short story I’m working on. It wasn’t exactly a bolt from the blue, rather a distillation of several ideas and possibilities I’ve been mulling over. But it certainly highlights something about the creative process.

I used to believe that if I wasn’t sitting down at a computer or with a notepad, staring at the screen with my fingers poised above the keyboard or chewing the top of a pencil, then I wasn’t working. And being the kind of guy I am, I tend to feel guilty when I’m not working. Yet it’s often when I’m not consciously thinking about a project that the most important developments occur, when the subconscious mind has space to do its stuff.

This is something I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate and accept; and it’s a realisation that makes my creative endeavours somewhat less stressful. Sitting down with a pencil and paper/laptop/iPad/[insert your weapon of choice here] and staring through the window are undeniably important aspects of the game, but most good things need time to mature.

So if you’re struggling, just relax. Watch television, play a video game, go for a walk or a bike ride* – and don’t feel guilty. But carry a pencil and a scrap of paper with you. Just in case.

* Both forms of exercise which stimulate blood flow and oxygen intake – just right for boosting creativity.

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