I watched a TED talk the other day by Ken Robinson – the one on the link below in fact… I’ll let you watch it for a moment before I go on…
One point sticks out.. well more than one, but this particular one is peculiarly applicable to me personally –
“There’s something curious about professors in my experience — not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads. They live up there, and slightly to one side. They’re disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads.”
I’m a Writer… and an Artist (of sorts). I spend so much time inside my head that it’s a wonder that I can communicate with real people!
If I’m sat somewhere, not talking and staring at something or someone, it’s because I’m not actually looking at that thing or person. I’m too busy talking to the characters in my head or trying to figure out the best way to get a character to where he /she will meet their untimely demise…
It gets pretty noisy in there (in my head), so if you combine that with the general household noise of three children, two cats and a partner with back problems, it can get VERY uncomfortable.
(I get a lot of headaches…)
Anyway, I went for a wander down into the village today. I refused to take the baby with me because I needed the quiet of the walk to sort what was going on in my head out. I’ve been trying to sort out the story for my NaNo 2015 attempt (yes, I’m doing that again) but for some reason I haven’t been able to get very far.
I’ve managed some back story, and created a situation for my character to get out of, but other than that, the details are coming really slowly… I may have to do an outline – I haven’t done one of those since I first started writing!
Ahem… usually the quiet of the walk allows me to work my way through any problems. I can’t be distracted from what I am thinking about and the fresh air (we live on the coast) often jiggles the niggly bits free.
But today, I had nothing. A completely blank mind… not something that happens to me very often.
Then that quote from the TED talk popped into it. I think I was sitting on a bench staring at a crow trying to pull a worm out of the ground at the time. As the worm popped out of the ground, the quote popped into my head… and I realised something.
I am a lot of things to different people. To my kids, I’m Mum; washer of clothes, cooker of dinners and provider of pocket money. To my partner, I’m Muse, Lover, Best Friend, Counsellor… (as well as General Cook, Cleaner and Teasmaid). To the Brownies & Brown Owl, I’m Barn Owl; helper and advisor.
That there is a lot of pressure. I have to multitask an awful lot to get things done sometimes… which is why my writing train has a tendency to get derailed.
I live in my head… but I have no space in here for me.
As I was walking, I mused about this. Writers, like academics, tend to see their bodies as encumbrances, transport for the mind. But one thing that exercising does is give you that Headspace.
Our society revolves around physical effort (it’s the reason that Dance and Drama are more important than Art and Literature) and to everyone else, writers seem to spend a lot of time doing nothing at all. They don’t move around a lot; they stare into space or daydream instead. It’s a mental effort rather than a physical one and society doesn’t like that.
A month or so ago, I sat on a bench (the same one I sat on today) trying to work out a plot point that had been eluding me. I must have looked like I was in pain, because someone came over, shook my shoulder and asked if I was okay… you can’t sit still and not be undisturbed because everyone assumes that you’re available if you do.
But if you move while you’re day dreaming, people leave you alone. Exercise can give you the headspace to work in without being interrupted. It’s a similar effect to sitting at your desk googling things – they assume that you’re doing some kind of work. If you walk / cycle / swim while you are day dreaming, no one bothers you.
So I need Head Space.
I need to be left alone for an hour or so a day without being interrupted. So I’m going to start exercising daily. Not anything majorly strenuous; just a gentle walk or cycle so that people will leave my mind to do its thing…