Virginia Woolf called it “wool-gathering”. I call it “percolation” time (among other things). An entire book was once written on The Art of Doing Nothing.
Of course, as writers, we never “do nothing”. Everything is material, all the time, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
However, we need times of stillness. And, in the same way writing time will never simply appear but has to be carved out of the cliffs of our lives, quiet time also needs its niche.
Writing is an act that demands both physicality (the act of pen on paper or fingers on keyboard) and mental activity (imagination and cohesive rearrangement of words and images in order to communicate). In order for that to happen, the writer needs plenty of time to simply “be”.
To non-writers, this looks like doing nothing. It looks like staring into space. It looks like day dreaming.
Yet without this time to look inward – uninterrupted, unrushed, and unquarrelled, writers cannot refill the wells from which creativity springs.
The body may be still, the eyes staring at what seems like nothing. But inside, the imagination is busy.
Next time you see a writer in a moment of stillness, respect the stillness. And creep off to find your own moment of stillness.
You’ll be amazed what emerges.