I write in a ball. Stuck half way between solid ground and dreamland. Half asleep.
So many people say they do their best writing when they are angry or sad and there are huge raging monsters to rip out and beat up. I have moments like that too, and I love the slick oil hard dusty tarp creativity that grips the page and declares injustice unacceptable.
But dreamland lets my mind wander away from word counts and paragraphs and productivity and the exact writing technique that will say the thing. I can really only get away with letting myself be a ball even though there is So Much To Do because it has worked for me so often and so consistently. I’m a list person. A productivity maniac that has to conscientiously have fun only because its good for you. The fucked up state of the world – from climate to race, to class, inequality and maniacs in power – fills me with urgency and basically utter guilt if I’m not being useful all of the time.
But the ball state is bliss. Dreamland is the place to process, to play with thoughts, and to hope some. And out of it, ideas are born that are so beautiful and work so much better than the dredges I squeeze out when systematically trying to find them. Except when brainstorming. Because brainstorming does two things dreamland also does: it allows me to have bad ideas, and it allows me to have ideas that are not the obvious first things one thinks of.
I think you need two things to really really capture something meaningful – creativity, which you get when your mind is allowed to wander, and living in the real world and seeing it every day through the eyes of someone seeking to understand it, the people, and its complexity. That alert state of mind, even though its usually horrified and upset at what it sees and deducts, is one of the things I live for, as intangible as that may seem.
-Tamara Person – The Butterfly Prison