Sebastian Lindemann wrote recently in “Uxdesign.cc” that we should all, writers included, embrace idle mind which will lead to higher creativity. Personally, if I try to see whether a theory works, particularly if I agree with it like I agree with this one, I try to see if there is a musical example.
And sure enough, there’s one, and quite a good one at that. What better than Otis Redding “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, where his ‘wasting time’ actually brings about some deep perceptions about his life. Otis probably did exactly what he says in his lyrics and that boredom, idleness, or whatever about him the conclusions he made, maybe even the lyrics and the music to the song itself.
And here I’m off in a somewhat different direction. So as a writer, in a situation where your mind, through idleness, or otherwise, comes to an idea, what do you do? Do you trust your ‘brilliance’ and write it down immediately or do you sit down first and do a detailed think and re-think before you commit anything to paper?
This time around, it might be good to recall one of Bob Dylan’s best ballads, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. Or re-formulated, “Don’t give it a second thought, just write it down”?
Maybe, but maybe not, no matter how trite it sounds. On one hand, it could really be a flash of brilliance, a stream of conscience that brings about exquisite writing, or on the other, pure gibberish that you should throw into the trash, real or electronic, doesn’t matter.
Dylan himself wrote (hopefully he still writes) in those flashes. Music journalists often mention the legendary conversation between Dylan and Leonard Cohen, as recounted by Cohen himself, where Cohen asks Dylan how long it took him to write the lyrics for a certain song (it escapes me which one it was) and Dylan answered: “Ten Minutes”. He then poses the same question to Cohen asking him how long it took him to write “Hallelujah”. Cohen answered: “A month I said. I lied. It took me a year”.
So it all depends on how formed your idea is. It can flow easily and you can have a formed piece of writing in no time, or it can have a series of veils and layers that you have to peel or take off until it is truly formed and ready.
Whether you need to sit by a slowly flowing river and clear your mind, immerse into thousands of words of others, it makes no difference, as long as the idea for your writing is clear and fully formed. I agree with Sebastian Lindemann that some idleness will certainly help.