This morning was like a lot of mornings and began with me in my tattered bathrobe staring at a blank computer screen. I had little to say and the mystical lightning bolt of inspiration never came. I was not sure how I would inspire others to write better, travel more, understand culture and find their own personal inspiration when I had zero to offer, just like a lot of other quiet mornings.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have sat in front of many computer screens hoping for a flash of brilliance to appear in my brain and then coherently crawl out of my fingertips filling the blank computer screen. It rarely happens and I have to acknowledge the hard truth. Writing is mostly perspiration and a drop of occasional inspiration.
Then I remembered what Chick Corea, a famous jazz pianist, once wrote, “Create space – then place something in it.” This quote comes from a list he put together called “Cheap but Good Advice for Playing Music in a Group.” The whole list is worthwhile, but it is this one line that has always stood out for me. I love how it speaks to music and collaboration. I know that Chick was referring to musical notes. However, I have always used his list entry as a pearl of wisdom for solitary writing.
While Corea left out the details of the process, he provide the instructions. “Create a space.” Thinking about space is exactly what I needed. While I sat in front of that empty Word doc and flashing cursor, I realized how much stuff I planned to do with my day. I realized that writing was only one of many actions I hoped to make. I did not give myself space to write. I inadvertently made my writing suffer by piling on too many things to do and made it impossible for ideas to flow. And sometimes my time is just packed with nonsense, anything from television to eating chocolate chip cookies as a diversion from space and placing something new in it.
After I crossed out three entries on my “thing to do” list and freed up some time and head space, I had my inspiration for my note for today, and tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, I will write up some of my favorite diversions (inspiration killers and time devourers), share them with you and then wish them into the cornfields.
For more on this subject visit Taking Out the Trash and The Creative Writer’s Bill of Rights