'All creative people have shortcuts that they use to rev the brain up' - Ian McMillan

There are different ways of getting your brain ready to be creative, says Ian.There are different ways of getting your brain ready to be creative, says Ian.
There are different ways of getting your brain ready to be creative, says Ian.
I’m in the kitchen on a cold January morning. It’s too early for the central heating to come on and I hug my old dressing gown closer.

The sun is still in bed and is lazily deciding when to rise. Outside, a cat from up the street wanders towards our garage and switches the security light on with a flick of its tail and sits there like a minor character in Cats the Musical. The security light goes off and so the cat flicks its tail again with a Let There Be Light gesture.

Today I know I need to get lots of writing done; I know that very shortly I’ll go upstairs and get dressed and then cross the landing to the little bedroom that’s got more books in it than space and I’ll start to pound my brain until it hands me the words I want. Just before I climb the wooden hill to Inspirationshire, though, I need to have my first cup of tea of the day. The central heating comes on, just as the kettle does.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some people are surprised that, although I get up at five every morning I don’t have my first cuppa until about 7.35. I don’t really have an excuse except that I like anticipation.

My routine is fixed: Up at five, out for my early stroll at 5.20, back at 6.10, do my elderly gentleman’s exercises, go out for my second stroll to the shop for the paper at 6.45, back in the house at 7.10, send some observational tweets to the waiting world, go and stand under the shower singing songs from the shows (I’m favouring South Pacific at the moment) and then, and only then, put the kettle on.

And perhaps there could be another clause to that sentence that would read “…then, and only then, can the creative process begin” because it’s only after I’ve glugged the first cuppa that I can decide I’m really a writer and that it’s time to get to the keyboard and begin to draft whatever it is that’s on my writing list for the day.

Read More
Levelling up the North is about far more than just a new Beatles museum - Anthon...

It’s an odd way to rev up for a time of literary endeavour but, as I said earlier, I like anticipation, and anticipating the writing I’m about to do almost means that I’ve actually started the process of creating something even when I haven’t.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Somehow the delayed gratification, the promise of sentences completed and paragraphs polished off, means that they’re already half-finished.

As I write, I anticipate the end of the page, the ringing and symphonic prose that will tie the piece together, even if I haven’t written it yet so that I can almost literally conjure it into being like a magician might flourish a rabbit from a hat.

I suppose all writers, indeed all creative people, have these shortcuts that they use to rev the brain up and get it into gear.

Mine is the promise of a lovely cup of black tea with no sugar. What’s yours? Find it and your writing is already more than half done.

Related topics: