Many writers talk about refilling the well, taking time out to do stuff other than write. I regard it as taking my muse out on a date, rewarding her with a good time for being such a damned good muse.
For some, refilling the well means watching movies, going to plays, reading or doing craft. For me, two activities work like a charm.
I love listening to live music, particularly jazz, and we’ll often go to one of several local hotels to listen to a band.
Perhaps it’s the mindless state one can drift into when listening to music that works for me. The beat, rhythm and pacing remind me of writing. And if you’re listening to jazz there’s dialogue, as the different instruments tic-tac with each other. Playing, flirting, fighting.
So while the music washes over me I empty my mind. And characters arrive - sometimes vibrant and fully formed, other times just whispering a snatch of dialogue in my ear.
Sometimes it’s a cue from the lyrics that helps with a writing problem. Listening recently to a gorgeous performance of Curtis Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” I was struck by that repeated line – please send me someone to love. Whilst it’s an activist’s call for peace in this particular song, the line resonated on a different level. And solved a problem in my story.
The other way I refill the well is to get out of town and go bush.
We’re about to set off on our annual outback camping trip. On one level this is supposed to be a break away, a chance to take time out. But when we jump in “the truck” and head out of the city I’m like a sponge, soaking up colour and characters, places, smells and language. Primarily I do it because I love it. But the writer in me just can’t help taking notes. That intersection of red earth and brilliant blue sky entrances me. The laconic bloke in a battered Akubra propped at the bar in a country pub is as attractive as any Zegna-suited hero. Strange things happen, life runs at a different pace. It all goes into the notebook.
Watching a campfire is hypnotic and my mind wanders while my internal story editor is switched off and told to take a holiday. Characters and scenes, snatches of dialogue are conjured from flames licking against logs. It’s restful and creative and I always come away with new stories.
This trip I’m finishing a story set in the outback so it will be great to complete the book while I’m “out there”.
Louise’s debut romance will be published by Penguin’s digital romance imprint, Destiny Romance, in late 2012.