Write On Wednesday-Moodling Along

I have a new word to add to my word pool~you guessed it~”moodling.” Not only do I like the sound of it, I like the definition too. It means (according to author Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write) “long, ineffecient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.” I’d love to become more expert in all those things, so I’m happy to hear Ueland say that this ability to “moodle” is essential for a productive imagination.

Inspiration comes slowly and quietly, Ueland continues. It comes in long walks, in lazy days spent gardening or knitting, or early mornings baking bread, it comes from sitting at the piano and really listening as you play through a sparkling passage in a Mozart Sonata. In doing these things, in “moodling” along in a carefree way, the imagination begins to bubble and boil in a natural process that Anne LaMotte calls “composting.” You can’t will yourself to have inspired, creative thoughts. They will come to you, however, if you let your mind wander while your body engages in some other enjoyable activity.

Julia Cameron, creator of The Artist’s Way, agrees. “An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude. An Artist requires the healing of time alone. Without this period of recharging, our artist becomes depleted.” Certainly this is the idea behind Cameron’s advocacy of the Artist Date, a time you spend alone doing something of your choice to recharge your creative batteries.
I have experienced this concept in action many times, as I’m sure most of you have. I can be feeling completely overwhelmed by work or family resposibilities, my creative juices completely dried up, and I sink into a hot bath, light my favorite candles, put on some Chopin or Debussy, and slowly relax into the warmth and serenity. Suddenly, the perfect first line of a poem pops into my head, or I remember an incident from my childhood that could be the basis for a fascinating and funny story, or the music reminds me of a night spent with my first love that just begs to be written about. Would my imagination have been ignited so handily if I had been at my computer, hands poised on the keys, waiting for inspiration to strike? Probably not.

I’ve discovered too, that if my creativity is engaged in one outlet, it seems almost transferable to my writing. Spending time at the piano is one of the ways I get inspired to write~not necessarily at the exact moment I’m playing, but later on, when the music has had time to sift through my soul, blossoming in my mind and spirit. Playing music requires use of different parts or your brain than writing does, and it involves a completely different mind-body connection, one that seems to invite creative thought to flourish.

But I’m not good at making time for moodling. My “to do” list is always so long, that I feel terribly guilty if I take time out for anything that isn’t seemingly productive toward accomplishing the long list of tasks I’ve set for myself. Even with this validation from Ueland, Cameron, and LaMotte, I’ll find it hard to set aside my Puritan work ethic long enough to moodle my way toward recharging my imagination. But, for days now, I’ve been craving a good, long walk, just aching to feel my feet pounding the pavement, to set my legs striding briskly down the “big hill” at the park, or even (darn this winter weather!) clock off a few rounds at the local mall. Could this urge be more than my sedentary body nudging me to get moving? Perhaps it’s my creative consciousness, desperately in need of an opportunity to ferment some marvelous new ideas? Hmmm, perhaps I’d better lace up my Reeboks and moodle along, give my imagination some time to spread to its wings.

How about you…what are your favorite ways to moodle?


11 thoughts on “Write On Wednesday-Moodling Along

  1. Each week I look forward to Wednesdays and what ever you write. I’m always inspired by what I read here.

    I call it “puttering”. It’s less focused than checking things off my to-do list around the house, quieter too. I like to sort through drawers and make soup.

  2. This is such a good post, Becca. I love that word “moodling.”

    I have resisted Julia Cameron’s books because all of them involve the artist’s dates. Each time I’ve read her description, it has made me bristle with visions of “homework.” But the way you have presented it here, it makes me realize that I have at least one, and sometimes several, artist’s dates most weeks.

    Oh, how I wish I were motivated (and had the wrists that would allow it) to play the piano. It’s supposed to be so good for your brain. As I recall, I always played the best when I sort of forgot about the mechanics and just went with it.

    My favorite ways to moodle are taking walks, photo safaris, leisurely bicycle rides, jigsaw puzzles…

  3. oh, how fun. my favorite ways to moodle are flipping through home decorating and craft books, playing “boat trip” with my kids on my bed, and reading blogs about crafting and writing!

  4. Being disabled I realized I’m a full time “moodler.” I wonder if too much moodling can be counter productive, creatively speaking 🙂

  5. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to moodle. I just love that word!

    I moodle by taking walks, museum hopping, blog browsing, people watching, cruising through memories in photo albums and scrapbooks, painting . . .

    I think I shall moodle right now!

  6. I would “moodle” for a living if I could. It seems that all the things that I find joy, peace, and comfort in are considered moodling.
    It is in this seemingly ordinary moments that my ideas are created. If only I could have a tape recorder in my mind to keep track of all those beautifully crafted sentences that fly through my mind at random moments.
    Great job with your Wednesday writing!

  7. Thanks to all of you for sharing your great comments about your favorite ways to moodle! You’ve given me some new ideas for moodling of my own 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing that word “moodling” … I love it! Wonderful piece you wrote here to remind us that art needs nurturing (and we do too!) Much peace, JP

  9. I love to walk too. I have a partner who can talk my ear off – and it’s hard to take in the scenery and savor the quiet moments I could have walking alone.
    I love lounging on my couch reading a book, sometimes a cookbook for inspiration.
    Lately, I’ve been drawing. I try to envision something and put it in color.
    Moodling is fun!

  10. I opened your post after a phone call in which I discussed sadness at not knowing the whereabouts of some of my favorite books. One was my tattered copy of Brenda Ueland’s If You Want To Write. Another was Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I guess we have something in common.

    I so love the word, and practice, of moodling. My fav way of moodling is to hike in the woods near my home.

    Deirdre clued me in to your blog. What fun!

  11. “Moodling” is a great word. I often have ideas when I’m just sitting still and observing the world around me, i.e. on the Paris metro or while taking walks through the Bois du Boulogne. But sometimes ideas come to me in the shower or while doing such mundane things as washing dishes. The germ of an idea usually sprouts long before I sit at the computer.

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