Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sarah Wilson on reading, writing and other fine stuff

There's a column in Sunday Life magazine that I find oddly appealing. Oddly because it's on a very different page to me spiritually. But I like reading it anyway.

Every week Sarah Wilson talks about her "experimental journey" to "make life more meaningful, happier, sweeter" - from decluttering to mindful eating to Random Acts Of Kindness. I enjoy it because it isn't solemn and earnest (ugh!), but cheerful, self-deprecating, chatty, and written with a light touch.

It also helps me understand people. My hairdresser does yoga and "cleanses her space" with crystals. My fellow school mum is rediscovering her faith. This column gives me a window into the hodge-podge of "spiritualities" that pass for religion for many Western women, who don't have Jesus but long for meaning.

Which makes my motives sound far more worthy than they are. Actually, I read with Sunday-morning laziness, waiting for something to jump out in a oh-really-you-too! way. Like the time Sarah discovered slow reading and the "Very Fine Art of Sitting on the Couch on a Saturday Afternoon with a Pot of Tea and a Good Book". You go, girl!

I, too, battle "Perfect Holiday Syndrome", which means I have to let go of my holiday ideals and learn to rest. When Sarah rediscovered her whiteness -"going out for breakfast, yoga, Moleskin notebooks" - I realised why I'll never be stylish in a "liberal, upper middle-class" way. I even liked (some of) what she said about the Dalai Lama, because he, too, can't silence the chatter in his head. So there.

This week, I realised Sarah writes like I do:

This column generally emerges from a walk around the block. Paragraph by paragraph, it unfurls as I lap the ‘hood. As Nietzsche wrote: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”. Henry Thoreau once said: “Methinks the moment my legs being to move, my thoughts being to flow”. Which is not to imply my column is a work of great thoughts. Just that it probably wouldn’t exist at all if I didn’t walk.

Lots of my blog-posts come together while I'm walking and staring at the clouds. Paragraphs form themselves while I drive and listen to music. The perfect sentence pops into my head when I'm asleep.

The best writing doesn't happen when I'm thinking; it happens when I'm not thinking.

So here it is, my very own life-tip with capital letters: A Relaxed Mind Is A Creative Mind. If you're having trouble getting something right, get off the chair, go for a walk, let your thoughts drift - and it will come to you. Sweet.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jean

I too find walking the key to solving problems. When I am walking and seemingly thinking about something completely different, or nothing at all, the solution to a problem I've been struggling with in the morning while sat at my desk at work comes into my head. I heartily recommend a lunchtime walk to all office workers - problem solving with the bonus of fresh air, and particularly at this time of year in the UK where I live, that most precious of commodities, daylight!


Jean said...

Thanks, Linda. Lovely to get a little window into your life in the UK! Love Jean.

Catherine said...

I'm with you. I find if I've had a few hours of relaxing - especially reading, or solitude, or some different kind of creative 'input', ideas and thoughts and deep conversation bubble out for hours.

Then my husband needs a rest.

Staci said...

The best writing doesn't happen when I'm thinking; it happens when I'm not thinking.

So true. I'm blessed with a huge backyard, and I always seem to get writing ideas when I step outside among the trees. Especially this time of year (which is autumn where I am).