Naughty N and I are in training for Walk the Wight.
This is good.
It is good because I am now walking – and as we know walking has health giving properties.
It is bad because I am supposed to be doing other things, like getting my Kindle downloads ready and working out how I’m going to get my new mind blowing website to become a reality and tidying my mother’s house which I’ve been looking after for the last ten days of her Peruvian rendevous.
And compared to all that, walking is an inviting alternative. You know?
Now add the word training and walking becomes an undeniably serious matter.
Sprinkle in the idea that walking can help your thinking and it becomes ultimately appealing to anyone who writes, paints, creates or generally just thinks. Especially when you have a creative block going on. Like mwah.
Last week my training/walking saved me. I’d been trying to write some brain-screwing copy but just couldn’t get it right. I hate it when that happens. You know what you want to do but somehow the process of creating gets all squeezy.
And if it does, what do you do to solve it?
Frustrated and grr-ish, I wandered through to the living room and flicked on the telly.
It was Jeremy Kyle.
A sloppy looking woman was screeching at her pregnant daughter, who was screeching back and looking like either the baby or her eyeballs were going to pop out in all the effort.
I flicked the telly off.
Picked up the phone and called Naughty N. “Let’s go walking. We’re walking the wight, goddamnit. We need to train.”
“Brilliant idea. Let’s do it!”
It turned out Naughty N was swimming around her living room in a pile of outstanding documents and paperwork. But as a true Walk the Wighter, training was top of her priority list too.
“I think we should walk to Colwell,” she said when I arrived at her house.
I raised an eyebrow. Colwell was about eleven miles away and we had to pick up the kids at two thirty. “Do you think we’ll make it in time?”
“We’ve plenty of time,” Naughty N assured me. She shot a glance at her ocean of paperwork, then added in a deeply serious tone. “And we need the training.”
“You’re right,” I replied, decisively.
“We can do it.”
“Ok. Let’s go.” So we marched across the lane, clamoured over a style and slurped through a bog that was masquerading as a field.
On we stomped, past the trout farm, into the next village, not once considering that we wouldn’t make our destination in time. Past the Gnome House we went, up the downs (manoeuvring around copious wet cow pats), past the burial mounds, down the other side, up another down and so on … At two thirty we limped into school like a pair of triumphant, bow legged cowboys. We’d walked. We’d trained. And we’d made our goal.
Later that evening I decided to go and face my writing again. Slipping into the office, I saw my work was exactly where I’d left it.
It hadn’t magically written itself …
It looked at me.
I glanced at it and chewed my cheek.
It kept on staring.
I paced around the room feeling my cowboy swagger dissolving faster than Disprin in a can of shaken up Special Brew.
I was withering … withering in the face of the creative block and it was all too much! To my surprise, I suddenly turned into one of The Wrong People from Jeremy Kyle, looked up at the ceiling and yelled, “Why is this happening? All I have to do is get this bloody thing written and I’m just going round and round in circles!”
The ceiling gazed down.
“It’s not like I’m incapable of doing stuff,” I shouted at it viciously. “I’ve just walked to Colwell in three and half hours! I did training. I set a goal and I did it. Just like that. I didn’t fanny about doubting myself and being all pathetic and BLOCKED. I just walked. Simple.”
The magnolia paint raised an artex eyebrow. I upped the pace of my pacing.
“And what I don’t get is why I can’t apply THAT attitude to all the other areas of my life? Why? Why, why, why, ceiling?”
As the words were uttered, an idea – a realisation – began to trickle through me.
“Attitude,” I murmured. “It’s all about the attitude!”
I frowned, pace slowing right down now. “Our creative goals are no different from any other goal – whether it’s to walk ten miles or write a novel … ” I snapped my head up, eyes shining. “Or finish my downloads!”
The ceiling was all like, “that’s my girl. NOW you’re getting it.”
“…. to achieve what we want to achieve, we need to simply set out our target clearly and specifically. Then we need to have the unwavering attitude that we are now going to get there.”
My eyes were round as saucers now – a bit like one of those dogs from The Tinder Box. (Do you remember those dogs? They were quite bizarre.)
“We set out on a stomp to Colwell, went through a boggy field, I got soggy socks but I didn’t then start moaning like a four year old. Boots leak! And?! It’s all about attitude – focusing on the horizon, not that I’ve just destroyed my hundred quid Fat Face cowboy boots!”
The excitement was infectious. Ceiling was practically clapping like a mum who has just seen her baby take those first tottering steps.
“Hang on!” I declared breathlessly. “There’s more!! The arch-enemy of an Unwavering Attitude is Bullshit. BULLSHIT = Wet Inner Voice that says, “wot if I get it wong, wot if I don’t do it wight, wot if no one likes it, wot if no one buys it, wot if it’s a waste of time, wot if, wot if, wot if?”
During the training Naughty N and I encountered copious cow pats. If we’d chosen to paddle in them, get stuck in them, slip over in them, swim in them, do head stands in them and generally become obsessed with them … well … we’d stink. We’d be diseased. We’d never have managed to get to our destination and everyone would think we were a bit sick in the head for playing in poo.
Yet paddling in metaphorical bullshit is exactly what we are doing when we get caught up in our fears, hence creative blockage.
By gum, it was all making sense now!
“All I need to do is get out of the cow pats and back on track to my actual destination by applying a straightforward, unwavering attitude to where I want to go!” I concluded. Running to the kitchen I made a fat cup of tea and settled myself down to probably the most productive and inspirational few hours that I’ve ever experienced.
And that was all thanks to going for a nice walk. And also, of course, the ceiling who helped immensely too. To show my gratitude to both I’d like to post this song:
PS. We didn’t actually make it to Colwell. We made it to the bottom of a golf course in Freshwater where we staggered into a tea room and told the proprietor that we’d just walked over ten miles to his cafe because its reputation was so marvellous. I think it made his day. Which made it all worth it.