So I’m standing in front of the washing machine on Sunday afternoon, not really thinking about anything besides putting in a load of shirts. It’s a dark day with heavy clouds hanging low. That is all right because I don’t have to go anywhere. It seems like a calm, quiet day with no distractions going on. But when I look a bit deeper, I realize that I’ve got two conflicting lines of subconscious thought running through my head.
#1: What a nice, quiet, peaceful day for relaxing. Just what a Sunday ought to be. No worries. I’m just standing here being myself in the moment. It’s all good.
#2: So where’s all the productive work today? That blog isn’t going to write itself, now is it? And when was the last time anything got done on a story? Writers are supposed to bubble over with fountains of spontaneous creative energy. None of that seems to be around today, so there must be something wrong.
I close the washer door, start the cycle running, and step out of the laundry room. The vertical blinds have been drawn back from the sliding glass door in the kitchen, showing a view of the backyard where the slender branches of the willow hedge are whipping around in the breeze. Pale white catkins are just starting to open.
Meanwhile, the inner dialogue continues.
#1: This would be a perfect day to curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot tea. Mmm, vanilla caramel tea…
#2: Why waste a quiet day that would be just right for writing? Tomorrow is another busy Monday—always a lot going on. Time is precious! Nothing will get done without seizing the moment!
Walking into the kitchen, out of habit I find myself trying to mediate the internal conflict—how about drinking that cup of vanilla caramel tea while composing a blog post? But then I decide it might be more useful to drag my subconscious assumptions up into the light of day (what light there is on this dark winter afternoon) and take a good look at them.
The first line of thought seems pretty simple—it assumes that I’m not in a hurry today, which the empirical evidence of being in a quiet house on a Sunday afternoon would tend to support. The second line of thought assumes that the time available for creative pursuits is scarce and must be snatched whenever it is found. There is some historical evidence in its favor; in past years when I let myself get too busy, my writing suffered as a result.
But at present I’m just standing in my kitchen with nothing in particular to do, and I can’t see any good reason to hoard time as if it’s a scarce resource. Like anything else, creative energy gets harder to hold when one grabs at it desperately, rather than just letting it flow gently along its natural course. I ought to be able to read a book on a quiet Sunday, while trusting that I’ll find inspiration for stories and blog posts later.
“We’ll see about that,” scoffs Voice #2, “it just sounds like an excuse for laziness. What’s to be done when no inspiration shows up?”
That’s when the muse peeks out and settles the matter by deciding to turn this entire internal conversation into a blog post—but not right away. Truth be told, she’s feeling just a tad miffed about being hurried. Writing the post later will work just as well. At present, there’s a nice comfy couch and a cup of vanilla caramel tea calling my name!