Do you know how to “moodle”?

I’ve read some incredible books on the topic of writing—because I wanted to. 

When I told one of my professors about them his eyes squinted as he looked down to me (he was a nice man—just T-A-L-L) and reminded me that “if you’re reading about writing, it means you are NOT writing,” and then shook his head. “Just write—a lot,” he said. He repeated these words often throughout that semester. Obviously, I’ve never forgotten them—and won’t. 

But when I told him that one of the books was If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland, his stance softened, and he smiled as he referred to moodling—Ms Ueland’s most excellent piece of advice for writers. 

In Ms Ueland’s words, (pg. 32 of my copy): 

. . .  you see the imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: “I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.” But they have no slow, big ideas. And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning. 

        If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. . . . . . . . wait for them.” 

The question then, for today, stands: Do you know how, or even allow, yourself to moodle?

Author note: It’s going to be a great work day; the window in my office is cracked open and the mystical magic of a Gregorian chant CD is playing on my iTunes. And I am keenly aware that there are a million humanoids out there that will never “get it.”  

p.s. Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande (Forward written by John Gardner), is another writing book that no writing professor would snarl at.


3 thoughts on “Do you know how to “moodle”?

  1. Moodling…
    I call it undirected and unfocused thought…

    Undirected thoughts move strangely. A reference to New York reminds me of a friend who lives in Brooklyn. That takes me back to the party where we met. At that party you had pizza from Johnny’s Pizzera and Johnny’s was located in an old gas station near my grandmother’s house. I remember my grandmother and … the journey continues.

    Undirected thought allows your subconscious to move ideas to your consciousness. And, I believe it gives me time to listen to what God wants of me.

    In days of old, we humans had lots of time for undirected though. People had tasks that took hours – without the radio, tv or ipods. Think about walking from St. Louis to California – there would be massive times for moodling…

    For 28+ years I spent hours alone in the car each week. I had plenty of time for moodling… When I changed my career to consulting – the travel changed – from car to airplane. My time alone dried up. I found myself unhappy.

    I came to realize I needed time to think… So back to your question – do I moodle? Yes..

    • And this all would make you one of the lucky ones who “get it,” Frank! Thanks for writing. Very, very well said.
      My job out here is “to put the notion out there.” So glad you caught it and commented.

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