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Imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering - Brenda Ueland

>> 26 January 2009

In a recent post, I talked about my year of white pages and my process of trying to fill them with daily creativity.

Yesterday I had a bad conscience because I was 3 pages late. And I knew that the more I procrastinated, the worse things would become and the more guilty I would feel.

So there I sat, completely devoid of inspiration, desperately looking for something to fill at least a page with (I would deal with the other two later).

I had received a baby announcement card from a cousin of mine which had a little bear on it. So I just started drawing and coloring this bear into my book. The result was horrifying.

My left brain, the one that still had my to do list blinking, the one that was listening to the tv downstairs, the one that thinks in details instead of the whole picture, the one that knew I was going to fail, was still very very active. (see right brain versus left brain characteristics and do the test here).

I was courageous enough to turn the page and let the horrible bear be.
On my desk lingered a photo of me which I did not like and was going to throw away. Instead I cut out part of the photo, glued it in the book and started doodling around it. The result was still no art, but I was slowly switching off from the world around me.

On page 3, and catching up on my delay, I wrote a title of what we had been doing that day 'A walk in the woods' and little things popped up: little red boots of my son, leaves, a blue bonnet, my camera, footsteps. And my right brain was on a train.

Looking at it now, it is still nothing to write home about, but it taught me two things:

  1. Even when you're not in the mood, mind, setting or atmosphere to be creative, the simple fact to just start doing something in that direction (or as Brenda Ueland puts it, moodling: idling, dawdling, puttering), gets the creative juices flowing.

  2. Even if the result is still of meager artistic value, you might be able to take away a little idea that can be combined to another one you considered useless, thus creating something better, and better, and better...

Brenda Ueland books:
Christine Kane write about Why moodling is good for you


Lance 28 January 2009 at 01:30  

I think I need to moodle more often... Sometimes it's just the act of getting started that is the hardest. Thanks for this, Mimi...I needed this reminder.

Anonymous,  28 January 2009 at 04:11  

I find that it helps if I take a break from the normal routine and go to a park or something. Usually an inspired idea will come along.

Mindful Mimi 28 January 2009 at 11:05  

@Lance: I am moodling right now. After having fixed my header I needed it. Moodle away Lance.

@ Evelyn Lim: Nature is a great place for moodling, for centering oneself, for getting back to reality, to breathe. The brain usually wakes up and goes 'oh yeah, I'm alive' and pops out ideas. Next time you go to the park, try hugging a tree. It works wonders.

Anonymous,  29 January 2009 at 05:11  

You really have a great website for interesting resources I didn't know I was interested in...for example I am not fascinated with the left and right brain information. It reminded me I bought a book I haven't gotten into yet that you might find interesting. It's called The Write-Brain workbook. "366 exercises to liberate your writing." What I did read of it when I bought it (So many books, so little time) helped me start to see where my creativity comes from. Its by Bonnie Neubauer, check it out!

Terri 29 January 2009 at 19:35  

right on... one of the greatest epiphanies of art, I think. And anyway, moodle is such a good word!

Mindful Mimi 30 January 2009 at 17:02  

@ Tina: Glad I could trigger some interest. Thanks for the tip, I will surely check it out.

@ Terri: Moodle is an awesome word. And a great activity to do and mood to be in.

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