The eternal war between this world and the one in your mind begins the moment you decide to be a creative writer. You have an idea which draws your attention, something which keeps you awake at night, which your mind turns to at any idle moment. Or sometimes when you really should be thinking about something else, like driving, work, or being sociable.
Oh, the burden of living in two worlds… And not just for me. For writers in relationships it’s a tough balancing act. I am so grateful to my wife Amedea (Aka Writer’s Widow) for her endless patience as evening after evening I stare vacantly at the PC screen hearing and seeing things invisible to her.
At first, for me it was about creating quiet space. To hear my Ideas Channel properly I needed uninterrupted quiet, and time to get into the zone. The box room with a desk and PC was a suitable location. Together with that, an external stimulus to helps me slip the worldly chains and as Billy Elliot says, ‘disappear’. Music. Or perhaps an inspiring film/TV programme.
I found that at first, it took more time to tune into my Ideas Channel than the time I could spend there. It takes a strange kind of concentration, which can be developed with practice. Over time you can develop discipline too, so that the veil between the two worlds is thinner and you can switch with greater ease.
But it’s also about giving your world the time it deserves. When I stopped writing for any period of time, finding the Ideas Channel was harder. Little and often is better than leaving big gaps, that way your world becomes like a second skin. Like any old friendship, your world is only as strong and real as the time you devote to it. You know those friendships where you haven’t seen the person for ages, and within a few moments, you are back in tune like they never left? A writer’s book should be like that. But it takes time to get to that place, so we need to put the legwork in first.
It’s a real place, this other world. Or at least, in a writer’s mind, it needs to be.
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