Thursday, 7 November 2013

Wandering Off by Jane Clarke

My best ideas often come when I wander off somewhere with nothing specific in mind. Here are three of my favourite wanders:

Letting the dog take me for a wander


Old dog pace is slow, with stops for joyous sniffs and rolls.

Wandering through old magazines



Thanks to poet Roger Stevens for introducing me to the delights of cutting and pasting random words, phrases and pictures and making surreal poems.

Wandering round a local place of interest

There are loads of interesting places, museums and art galleries where I live, but a supermarket or my local town, Deal, will do just as well, too.


Wandering around Dover Castle has given me ideas for three books - which I occasionally get invited to read in the awesome setting of the Great Tower.



I don't have a notebook by my side when I go off wandering- because that would make me think I had to have an idea, and the whole point of wandering  is that it's pressure-free. But I often come back with something to add to my compost heap of ideas.


Here's a link to my post about  ideas composting

But even if I don't come back with anything to put in the notebooks, wandering off occasionally stops me stagnating - and makes me feel less guilty about the chocolate nibbling when I'm back at my desk.


Jane's currently polishing up three picture book texts for Nosy Crow. She's been having a lovely time wandering round Dover Castle, and doing some readings there over the autumn break, and Bramble has taken her for lots of walks.  
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17 comments:

  1. Nice post, I agree about the therapeutic effect of wandering. Not having a dog anymore, (my wife's little cavvie popped his clogs a year or two back) , I find that being into photography is a good excuse to wander aimlessly here and there and get a bit of exersize. Just getting out of the house can free up the creative process wonderfully. I've stayed in Deal a few times and wandered happily with my camera amongst the boats, lurid nylon ropes and detritus and sheds ;-)

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    1. Photography sounds like a great excuse for a wander. I may have to take it up once Bramble pops her clogs.

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  2. Lovely post :) I really like the idea of cutting words out of magazines - am definitely going to try it next time!

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    1. Go for it Abie - just cut out words that catch your eye and move them around a bit - I find it really relaxing.

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  3. Yes, that sounds fun! And this is a timely reminder to relax and allow thoughts in. I find it so hard to do as I'm always going at a million miles an hour, it seems. Not good for the imagination.

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  4. Yeah, I'm a wanderer too. A beach-comber of ideas. A scavenger of stories. Walking the shoreline, climbing mountains, sitting in cafes, looking and listening...

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    1. You put it so poetically, Malachy, thanks!

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  5. Ah, this resonates with me, Jane. I tend to panic when feeling that I MUST produce an idea, and I think my imaginative brain needs a bit of wandering. Does lying in a hot bath or in bed and just letting the mind wander count as wandering, even if the body isn't? That sort of wandering is also important to me.

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    1. Definitely, Pippa, just letting the mind wander is what counts.

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  6. Good suggestions, and you must have a good memory, Jane. I just wish I could remember the ideas that pop to the surface when I haven't got a notebook with me! Adore the surreal poem cut-out ideas.

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    1. Yup, Paeony, I've forgotten loads of ideas that popped into my mind and thought I'd make a note of later. But I reckon if I can't remember, then it probably wasn't that good an idea to start with

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  7. Thanks, Jane. I also love the idea of cutting out random words from a magazine. But like Paeony says, without that notebook, I wouldn't remember the ideas when I got home. I've done it so many times, forgotten ideas I really like because of not writing them down soon enough (probably not great ideas, but who knows? I can't remember them -just that I thought they WERE great ideas). But I love getting ideas from unexpected places. I've just had an idea inspired by a paragraph in Slaughterhouse 5 of all places and a series of poignant photos I've just seen on the internet. Neither seems vaguely appropriate to picture books but it's given me my favourite idea I've had for a very long time. You're right that it often happens when you're not looking for it. But it's quite good to have your radar out...and recently I've not really been receptive to ideas. So tonight felt good! Happy scavenging.

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    1. Yes, dog-walking is very inspiring and you see things you wouldn't normally notice, even when you walk an old dog, which mine is now, just like yours, Jane. Look forward to your Nosy Crow books.

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    2. Thanks Ragnhild, and Clare good luck with nurturing that idea.

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    3. sometimes I make notes on my phone as with two dogs a notebook can end up soggy, nothing like wandering out and about as well as inside your head. Fab post x

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  8. It's taken me a long time to accept that this type of wandering is a crucial part of the writing process - after years working in an office, I am programmed to think I need to be sitting at a desk typing away to be 'working'. But I think I've finally got that I need to do a lot of meandering (in my case with a notebook!) in order to get the ideas flowing and the problems solved. And it's a much nicer and healthier way to work!

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  9. Wonderful wandering wonderingly!

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