I have been getting better at letting there be silence in my day. At waiting, when I can’t think of what to say, or I can’t muster the will to do it. I haven’t ever really learned how to moodle, how to just sit there until some silverfish of an idea flickers by, get still enough that all the silverfish come out, and hold my breath, and watch them, and see what shapes they make. My unhelpful voice says what if no fish ever come out? Isn’t that lazy? Isn’t that an incredible waste of time? You need to prove your commitment to writing by making words. But maybe, something that I haven’t really thought of before, maybe writing is both an effort and a not effort. Maybe there is waiting, and poking around, and wondering, and then working really fast, and hard, for a concentrated time.
John Updike observes that everybody, even the most prolific poet he knows, considers being blocked as a regular part of the cycle of writing. Somebody else said they can only write for two or three hours when they are incubating ideas. Even Stephen King said he always has two stories going– one of them his real project, which he does in the morning, and the other one his “toy train”, which he fiddles with in the afternoon, trying to see if it will ever become something he wants to commit to.
More recently I try not to hurry myself, to let myself be patient, to cultivate the silence out of which some idea might slip, silver fish, and hover long enough for me to notice it.