A brief note on the importance of having crumbs and socks and stuff scattered all round your workspace

Rule #1 of doing practically anything is that your first draft will be rubbish. Maybe there are exceptions; I don’t know. Maybe Picasso or Da Vinci could whisk off a completed work from a standing start, but we mere mortals usually can’t. Do you concur? Beautiful, thanks. Moving on.

For me, whenever I sit down to do anything even remotely creative, I immediately get jittery. A part of me seems to expect that whatever half-baked notion I had when I started is now supposed to reveal itself in its full glory, emerging from its cocoon of the mind and stretching colourful wings of brilliance across the alabaster page.

That never happens.

What does happen is that I scribble what I can, then I get up and go look in the fridge and when I come back and I look at what I’ve written and it’s still rubbish only somehow even worse than it was two minutes ago and I sit down again and write another sentence and delete it and the one before it for good measure and then I go to the toilet or try to find a sympathetic couch pillow that I can confide in, and so on. If I’m not at home much the same scene plays out, but with other objects and appliances playing the parts of the fridge or pillow.

All of this apparently has to take place, or writing (for me) doesn’t happen at all. I reckon it’s because I’m so afraid of doing badly that I need near-constant reminders that this isn’t ‘for real’. Quality? Originality? Creativity? Nah, I’m just messing around here, is all.

And that frame of mind is easier to sustain the more casual my surroundings. I shudder to think how paralysed I’d be if I had to sit in state behind an aged teak desk. Not for me the artwork over the fireplace; give me the used socks on the kitchen chair and the empty bowl from probably yesterday, with a forlorn teabag inside it for some reason. That’s how I roll.

(For 40 vastly more authoritative opinions, see here).

 

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