Monday, November 30, 2009

Permission to Rest

When rushing to create a product, writers often power from idea to solution and avoid the percolation process. Although they accomplish a result, they may have missed insights gained from the incubation period so vital to the creative process. An interval of rest and diversion from thoughts and brain noise helps everyone reach the "Aha" moment with more possibilities.

During a period of not writing, notions and ideas flicker the synapses in kaleidoscopic fashion. With deadlines approaching, it becomes difficult to let that "nothing" happen. Even a short break will prove valuable. After a respite, a feeling of freshness and invigoration pushes one into the final stage of writing.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the magic of brain swirl depended on channeling from the Muses. Unknowingly, while leaving it to the Gods, they permitted time for rest to take over. They also enjoyed bacchanalia for diversion.

Elias Howe, an adapter of the sewing machine, became frustrated with the notion of the sewing needle because he could not determine how to thread and mechanize it. One day he stopped and stared out the window. His mind spun in reverie.

Later he and told his wife he had a daydream of standing inside a black pot of boiling water in the jungle. A native came to him ready to thrust a spear. He looked up and noticed the spear had a hole in its tip. When he returned to his work, he decided to try a hole in the tip of the needle in his machine. Aha!

It takes courage and resolve to rest, try daydreaming, or do nothing during a writing project.  Just writing the word "rest" feels like procrastination or a retreat into laziness.

I have discovered naps and running plunge me into the "doing nothing" space. When my autonomic system takes over in both cases, I dwell in a cocoon of awareness. After working on a writing project with intensity this silent awareness opens my mind to break throughs. It becomes a diversion needed although many would not call it true "rest."

Each writer has a different way of accessing this place of rest as a springboard to illumination. Take time from a writing project to investigate your place of silent awareness. Does this work during the moments of tranquility before sleep or in moments upon awakening? Do you make discoveries in the flow during a run or walk? Will breathing exercises push you into a calm and tranquil state. Will meditation provide the rest needed?

Creative Write: Define in writing what a place of rest means to you.  During a time of frustration in writing, give yourself the permission to rest. Then write about the results.

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