Writing time


Douglas Adams used to take frequent baths, not so much as to soak and think of new scenarios, more to procrastinate. Apparently he is said to have hated writing.

I tend to write first thing in the morning as my head is still empty of ‘things that must be accomplished’. It might only be for twenty minutes sometimes, but if I leave a thread hanging to pick up later or the next day, it’s a satisfactory ongoing process. Ideas usually float around the rest of the day and become embedded, consciously or un-condciously.

Walking is the best ideas generators. But It doesn’t seem to work if I ‘set out’ to think. More a sort of general ‘being on the planet’ letting in visual observations, hearing conversation, birdsong, a city’s soundtrack or a river’s murmur. Swimming is equally good. Empty mind, regular movements of arms and legs, breath in and out — ah, yes, that could work, perhaps at the end of chapter 33.

Car journeys, sometimes, but not so good if I’m driving — a touch hazardous. Trains are brilliant, especially very long voyages. The lulling movements, dozy, half awake, inability to be able to do the washing up or any other jobs, the blurring, changing landscapes, peoples houses and gardens — imagined lives.

Gardening. Very good. Our friend Mike, a gardener par excellence, said that when you turn the earth and pull it apart, chasing out the weeds, you inhale certain bacterias, which create endorphins in the brain, rather like exercise, sex, chocolate, chilies. True, I always feel accomplished after a weeding session, and tangled plot ideas often become unravelled and ready to put into words.


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