When I’m Not A Writer
Many of us have other hobbies, something practical and stress-relieving, just to take a break from our discipline.
Writers are no exception to this. It takes time to craft something, sure, but unlike the things we wish to publish, we don’t always have to release the product of our hobby to the general public. This is because most of our crafting and creativity is in our heads--coming up with reasons why a character would act this way, or why a poem needs to be spaced out--and the only time we use our hands is when we come to writing our pieces. Which is great, because it relieves our crowded minds. We can finally let out that pent-up sigh and relax.
Until we get restless. Until we need something to do. Until our next project comes along.
And our hobbies don’t have to always be creative.
Sylvia Plath took up beekeeping to keep her from being restless, and subsequently wrote her cluster of poems on Bees. Despite her troubling life, Plath enjoyed beekeeping, particularly that of the local meetings between beekeepers. Beekeeping is not necessarily a creative job, but it led to a new project for Plath, a project which is now quoted in the effort to save the bees.
On the other end of the scale, Philip Larkin was a librarian at the University of Hull, which was keeping with his profession but still using his hands in between projects. Larkin shied away from press interviews and public attention, instead turning towards being a librarian to support himself, and keep him busy. Something many writers may opt to follow.
As humans, we wish to keep busy in some regard. When I’m feeling guilty for being unable to write, or my head is clouding with assignments and deadlines, I stop. I take a break. I’ll either dance in my room, or I’ll paint something, both of which remain private.
Much like Holly Corfield Carr, this year’s commissioned poet for the collaboration between the National Trust and Falmouth University. In an early interview with Holly, when talking about her spare time, she mentioned creating small wooden boxes:
"I like the idea of making small things that might contain things, and I think that’s what poems are, essentially."
It’s not about being creative, necessarily, but about keeping active whilst we write pages of literature and poetry. It’s about having something in front of you to work on; crafting with our hands, as well as our minds.
Don’t stay restless, waiting for the next project. Don’t get hung up on that chapter that’s taking forever to manifest - move your hands to something else, move your feet to whatever music you have on you. And then, when you feel your lungs moving, get back to that chapter. Start a new project. Write.
by Melody Gillett