15th June 2012

Head space

Mmmm, yes, head space… I’m not sure we writers get a lot of this.  I think that the inside of my head, were the contents to be emptied, would look a bit like a huge pile of lego bricks, but with words on the side, all shapes and colours and in a complete mess, but with the potential to be connected at some point and constructed into something humungous and glorious… maybe!

So, I force myself to have head space every day, even when there’s a compulsion to keep going with the wordy stuff.  For me, my head space, as some of you lovelies who follow me on Twitter (despite the bizarre nature of most of my tweets) will know, is out walking with the hound.  We go for a couple of miles some days, across field after field.  I usually listen to music with my earphones in, although sometimes I just like to hear the sounds around me.  Once I’ve had this break, I can go back to the words afresh, begin again, and often see things I’d missed before, or manage to clamber over one of those gnarled bits that sometimes tangle our words up.  Occasionally, I take my camera, shut off completely from the words and just absorb stuff.  So, today I’ve done a photo gallery thingy of some of the things that make me go “Ooooh” when I’m having my bit of head space.

I have a bit of a thing about poppies, especially red ones.  This is a field of oil seed rape that I pass regularly on my walks. There’s something so hopeful about poppies. I like their randomness and ability to survive whereever.  They always lighten my heart, whether it be a field of them like little wee hearts beating, or just a random one or two.  I like this pic above because the sun almost made the green leaves in front transparent. They could be fairies about to find their wings and flutter off into the sky.

A little beating heart among the green.

I love this spiky tree. Had passed it loads of times and wanted to take a pic. It changes so much according to the light.  It was lovely this day with the fluffy blue and white clouds as a backdrop.

I also have a thing about fences, gates, posts, chains, barbed wire, general rammel and rubbish, places that are neglected.  I love the contrast between worn and neglected things and nature.  There’s a real gut pulling beauty in the juxtaposition of these.

And another… and yet, how often do we walk past these sights and take no notice?

I love this ivy covered trunk.  Ivy really has got its head screwed on right, hasn’t it?  It travels the places it wants to travel and won’t be stopped.  It knows its own mind and follows its own path regardless… if I was a plant it’d be a toss up between ivy and a poppy.  Think I’d have to go with the poppy in the end as I think it’s the free spirit of the flower world.

And, of course, no hound walk would be complete without the gorgeous Molly, who is looking uber happy here – she does love our walks.  It’s great to share my head space with her.  Maybe she needs some head space too… who knows.

Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these.  What do you do to get your head space?

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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25 Responses to 15th June 2012

  1. Ann Wright says:

    Your first sentance sums it right up – there is very little head space.
    And do you find that whilst all those lego bricks of words keep building themselves into a story, the bowling balls with ‘remember to do this’, and ‘organise that’ keep arguing for more space too and rolling at the building trying to knock the lego down until your head feels like it will burst, wanting more space for everything?
    That is definitely the time to go for a walk. I love your photos – I think when you’ve noticed those small things on a walk like that, you’ve really shut everything else out. Best, I love walking in the wind as it leaves the feeling of blowing all the unnecessary things out of my head so when I return to write, it is only what I need that is there!

    • What a lovely comment, Anne! I can see that we’re coming from the same place here. Yes, those other things that have to be done – just like bowling balls, as you say. I love walking in the wind too and I agree, it really is like having your head cleaned out! Thanks again, Anne.

  2. Beautiful photos! And walks are such a great way to clear the head, I agree. I love gates and poppies, too. Just lovely!

  3. Shary Hover says:

    Your walk looks delightful! I agree that walking with a dog is a great way to clear the mind. My walk is more suburban than yours, but every once in a while, Lola and I go out of the city for walks in a wilder place. Another thing I do to settle my thoughts is dance. It’s expressive like writing, but the language is completely different and I find I need those classes to reset my creativity.

    • Thanks for that Shary. I do suburban walks when the weather’s a bit grim, and I agree, even that helps. I love the idea of dancing as a ‘head space’ activity. As you say, creative and yet so different. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Martin Shone says:

    Yes, when I’m at a loss I nearly always go out for a walk with camera and notepad, although the camera gets used more than the notepad. Trouble is though my couple of miles seem to end up as 5 or 6 :-/

    And I walked passed a field full of poppies the other day so you might be seeing them on my blog now that I know you like them 🙂

  5. Jenny Alexander says:

    I do exactly the same thing! A daily walk is the main idea in Julia Cameron’s follow-up book to ‘The Artist’s Way.’ I think it’s the rhythm of walking, the shift from thinking to sensing, all that stuff, plus those ‘surprised by joy’ moments when you find yourself face to face with a fox on the path, or a thrush flies up from the verge right in front of you… I was being a bit lazy today, but you’ve inspired me to head off to the woods right now 🙂

    • Ah, that’s lovely, Jenny. I completely agree with the rhythm thing, and those suprise moments too, especially the birds that suddenly fly up – love that! Hope you enjoyed your woodland walk.

  6. Jo Carroll says:

    Great pictures, Abi – thanks.

    Like you I walk. And sometimes I just sit in cafes and notice what’s around me. And tonight I’m going to a gig and will listen to rocky jazz and maybe have a bop and will come home with head and body totally knackered!

  7. Emma Pass says:

    Aaah, Molly is such a cutie! Give her a big ear rub from me. I get my head-space in exactly the same way; Hound walks are great for clearing my head, working out plot-tangles and for reconnecting with the world around me. That’s interesting you have a thing for gates and fences and neglected things… I find neglected spaces fascinating too (perhaps that’s why they play such a huge part in my WIP!) and I love the corners of fields – those forgotten bits tangled with weeds – there’s something about them that’s just wonderful!

    • Isn’t that bizarre? I used to go to my dad’s garage in the school hols and spend hours rummaging around piles of car parts and ‘stuff’ out in the yard. I’d come home filthy! I love derelict buildings too and those really really old parks – not proper smart ‘pc’ parks, but rusty old ones with long grass that’s found its way through the concrete… lovely! Will pass on the ear tickle to le hound!

  8. Definitely true, even though I don’t write per se I find a lot of inspiration for my blog comes from walking out in the countryside with my dog, as well as just a general head cleanse we all require from the stresses and strains of household/parenting/jobs/life. I have found in the past few months of being a dog owner my ability to think, make decisions and relax is easier as well as just feeling less stressed, miracle, wish I’d known being a dog owner would be so good for me earlier on, but then again I think Sampson just came at the right time in his own little way 🙂

    • Ahhh! That’s lovely Gem. Apparently there are statistics to show that having an animal destresses people. I agree, especially with dogs, and walking really does seem to clear out the cobwebs and untangle the tangles doesn’t it? It sounds like it was perfect timing for Sampson to come along 🙂

  9. Those dog walks can sometimes save me from going a little bit…all right, a lot… insane! The fresh air, wind, sun, rain, whatever brings you right back down to earth and sometimes that’s just what I need. We writers tend to live a little with our heads in the clouds, well I do!
    May favourite walks are on the beach, love walking through the water, or out along the river.
    It’s just nice to get out of the house!

    • Me too, Lisa! Think I’d be jabbering to the walls if I didn’t get out and about. Working from home is lovely, as is the being in own world thing when writing, but it has to be balanced with a good dose of reality doesn’t it? I need people too and different places. If I can cram all of these into a week then that just about does the job for me!

  10. What a great post, Abi! You do have such a great way of seeing things. – I wouldn’t have seen those faeries if you hadn’t have said it :o)

    I really hope I can take some of this approach on board. Illustrations are coming in all the time, which is great, but I’m terrible at not just getting out for half an hour and not thinking about them. I know it helps – I’ve just got to make it a daily habit.

    Totally agree about the beauty of so much of what surrounds us, or that we pass by without noticing. “There’s a real gut pulling beauty in the juxtaposition of these.” What a great line! :o)

  11. Ah Dean! What a lovely comment. Am really touched. Really pleased you liked the post. Yes, it is easy to get swamped by the work isn’t it, and I’m sure I would too if it wasn’t for the hound – she really helps get me out there whatever the weather. Hope you manage to squeeze some ‘out’ trips into you daily routine x

  12. I know what you mean about head space. I hardly ever seem to have it. S’funny, people think it must be easy just making stuff up, but sometimes it feels like my head is so crammed full, it’s going to burst. Your walks sound lovely, taking the time to look at the things around you, and your pics are great, but I’d still probably be making mental notes, deciding where they could all fit into a story. Going for a walk I get ideas, reading a book, watching a film, flicking through a magazine, pretty much anything makes me think about the book I’m working on and how I can make it better – I’m thinking about it now! I need to take a leaf out of your book and . . . well, just look at the poppies (and think about how I could describe them as a character walks past and thinks of . . . stop it!)

  13. Ha ha ha! Funny man! 😀 It is hard to shut off, Dan, but I do manage it on my walks. It just shows though what a true story teller you are and how writing really is your ‘thang’ doesn’t it? It’s amazing what little things we can draw on for inspiration. I’m going on a train today and will be equipped with notepad and pen – I just know I’m going to get so many ideas from people watching and gazing out of the window!

  14. Nadine says:

    Gosh, Abi, this post is confirmation that I really need more head space in my life, especially for grounding. I love your little commentaries on each pic, especially about the poppies being free spirits and the ivy knowing what it wants as it travels wherever it pleases. I love flowers, trees, plants, etc., but I had to pause when I read the part about the barbed wire and the fence and trunk. I wouldn’t have given them the attention they deserve. Looking at them in your photo, I now realise that they have a story to tell, much like everything else around them. Thanks so much for opening my eyes. I love whenever you post or tweet about your walks, because I’m a country girl at heart. Oooh, and Molly is a sweetheart. She looks like she’s laughing. I heart dogs. 🙂

  15. Aw, thanks Nadine! What gorgeous comments! Really glad you liked the post and the pics and it’s lovely if the post has made you think about the things you see in a slightly different way. This is one of the things I love about other people’s writing too – that you can read something and it opens your eyes to something new. Thank you – yes, Molly is a sweetheart, and she does look like she’s laughing doesn’t she? Hee hee! 😀

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