I’ve always liked the quote below by Brenda Ueland from her book published in 1938 – If You Want to Write – a book about Art, Independence and Spirit.
“So you see, imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”
For those who haven’t heard of her, Brenda Ueland was an American journalist, editor and free-lance writer who was born in 1891 and died at the age of 93 in 1985. Her mother was a suffragette, and Brenda remained a staunch feminist throughout her life. She was said to live by two rules: to tell the truth and not to do anything she didn’t want to do. I’d recommend reading this classic.
I love an older woman role-model. With her feminism and the above ‘rules’, along with the moodling advice, Brenda Ueland is certainly a good role model for me. Most of us were told at school that day-dreaming was lazy or unproductive. Sometimes such reprimands kick in for me. That sour-faced English teacher – what was she called?
There’s an interesting recent Radio 4 series called The Anatomy of Rest which suggests mind-wandering, zoning out, day-dreaming is an important part of creativity. Listen to the series and you’ll also discover that in a large sample of 18000 people, reading comes top in a survey of the most restful activities. You can certainly mind-wander in someone else’s imaginary world if you’re reading any length of fiction.
So instead of bothering to clean the floor or wipe the kitchen surface, I’m going to follow Brenda Ueland’s advice and do what I want – which is to dawdle, idle and putter down the lanes near where I live. No brisk walking for fitness, no intention of getting anywhere, no time-scale. A new flash fiction idea might even pop into my head…