Bits of life / Exercises

The gift in waiting.

2011-03-12_beach-smaller

A few weeks ago, I met with an aspirational writer, someone who wanted to find out more about the craft of blogging. We’d arranged to catch up at a beachside cafe. I sat in the front window, for ease of spotting and being spotted.

She was more than half an hour late, but this didn’t bother me.

I used this time. I sipped my short macchiato at a leisurely pace. I stared out the window. I checked out a scaffold set up by the dune under repair. I noticed the water’s impossible blue, the cloudless sky, the beachgoers and exercise junkies weaving their way through my gaze.

In short, I used this time to achieve pretty much nothing.

And in the midst of the nothingness, I was hit by a creative surge. Without any prior intention, I started channelling characters in my novels and filling plot holes in stories. One after another, the epiphanies came, each unrelated to the previous, each equally refreshing and welcome.

When my coffee date showed up, I was absorbed in my notebooks, trying to catch hold of the fading thought strands.

This experience reminded me to be grateful for everything I receive, and it reminded me to give myself more slow time–for the sake of me as well as my writing.

Thus, this month’s very late writing challenge is about giving time to yourself. It’s closely related to the ‘sit still and observe’ challenge from August, with one important difference: this is an exercise in doing absolutely nothing.

Monthly Writing Challenge #8–October 2015: do no thing.

Find a place to sit. Just sit–or recline, if you prefer–for half an hour or more. Loll, if you like. Isn’t loll such a great word? Sure, you can drink a coffee if you pre-prepared it; no cheating! Breathe deeply. Don’t aim to think about anything. In fact, aim for blankness. Be quite still.

If something wafts into your mind, let it. Be aware of your thoughts without feeling the need to do anything about them. Let them roll around and ferment and fragment, but don’t try to control them. Keep doing this, for almost as long as you have time.

In your last few minutes, write something down. Even if nothing particularly creative sprang to mind during your nothing time, you can write a few sentences about your experience of doing nothing, about the feelings you had at the start and finish, about the fact that the next time you do something like this you’ll wear a jacket or a hat.

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Yesterday, I kept someone waiting. She is such a generous, nurturing soul that I know she received my accidental gift in the spirit of gratefulness. Thank you, L 🙂

Enjoy your words,

Hannah.

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