Wednesday, 28 May 2014

All you need to know

I was cleaning out my purse on the weekend and I came across a snippet of folded newspaper. I could see by one moth-eaten edge that I'd been carrying it for a long time. The snippet is an extract from a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. (Fulghum is an American who's written some books with interesting titles: "Words I Wish I Wrote" and "Uh-Oh: Some observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door" being two. You can go here to read more about him.) Once I'd read through the extract I understood why it was tucked away in my purse. It's the sort of information you need to read every now and again.   

The points that appeal to the writer in me are:

  1. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. 
  2. Be aware of wonder. 
  3. Share everything. 

Share everything is obvious. Everything I know about writing I try to share with my writing friends. You should do the same. I went to a class last year where the tutor had an Excel spreadsheet listing every scene in her book and a brief sentence of what happens. If she wanted to check on something she went to the spreadsheet; it saved her paging and paging through her manuscript. Now this would never work for me; I'm frightened of spreadsheets because I don't understand how they work. But someone else in the class said, "Ah, bewdy" as if a light had come on.   

Be aware of wonder reminds me that I should take the time off every now and again to appreciate nature, to reflect on what's right in front of me -- be it a satellite at dusk, or a spider's web. Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist's Way, recommends having a hobby or doing something like gardening. "As we serve our hobby, we are freed from our ego's demands...this...affords us the perspectives needed to solve...creative conumdrums." 

Live a balanced life - learn some...paint and sing... reminds me that my creativity needs to be nurtured. It needs to be fed. Awoken when it tires of the same old same old. And challenged. This means take the afternoon off and see a movie (but make it a good one), stroll around an art gallery, kick the autumn leaves in the park, talk to a stranger, or do something you haven't done before. Please leave your headphones at home and switch off your phone. I can hear you thinking, "What a waste of time when I could be writing", but you'll be surprised at what you get out of it, although what you get out of it may not be immediately obvious. But it'll be there, waiting for an opportunity to show itself. Believe me.

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