categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
Carl Jung would take two weeks off from everything and take vacations in order to dream. Because he knew as we all do that dreams come most vivid when we’re relaxed and receptive, also that they come when we’re asleep. Even the memory of dreams takes lassitude–you can’t get that thread back once you’re fully awake, the ice skates that helped you fly to see your farm (the farm you don’t have).
So loaf and invite your soul. This exercise will be very difficult for most writers (except perhaps certain college students I know, who had better skip it), but I recommend it highly. Spend your writing time this morning or afternoon or evening just doing nothing. You’ll want to pick a place where no one will bother you at your task, because people hate to see someone doing nothing and they will do their best to see you doing something. To them, quote Walt Whitman, as I have done above: “I loafe and invite my soul / I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”
And let me quote Brenda Ueland, from her terrific little book If You Want to Write.
“So you see the imagination needs moodling,—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: “I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.’’ 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 least to make life have some warmth and meaning.”
When I was at MacDowell (a great artist’s colony and retreat), one of the visual artists there, very successful, decided to use her six weeks to do nothing. She could be seen wandering the beautiful campus or downtown looking in store windows or in the graveyards making rubbings not meant for her art. She was thinking. She was refilling the reservoir. She was making sure the artist’s reputation for indolence was deserved.
Do that. Not forever. Just for now. Rest your mind till it starts to work again, then keep resting.