Lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh

“Poetry and hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.” Winnie-the-Pooh (from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne).

For a Bear of Very Little Brain, Pooh shows remarkable insight into the world of creativity. Sometimes we writers and artists get a bit stuck in our creativity, facing writer’s block, perfectionism and procrastination to name but a few problems. Ideas seem to run and hide, snickering at us from the shadows. At such a time as this, a blank canvas or page or word document can be the most frightening thing on the planet.

And yet humble little Pooh has hit the nail on the head. Pooh doesn’t try to fetch his songs and poems. He simply goes to the places where they are and waits for one to catch him. The trick is to be listening so he can hear them when they’re near.

I find Pooh fascinating and inspiring. His simple premise summons my memories of places where I have been ambushed and kidnapped by new ideas for writing and for songs. Here are some of my favourite spots for being “found” by ideas; what are yours?

  • My ball chair. This spot is ideal for writing because it sits away from the TV and looks out the window. Its circular shape has the added bonus effect of cancelling out some of the outside traffic noise. It makes for quite a cozy and reclusive spot.
  • My local café. This is actually a coffee house, but I don’t drink coffee, so for me it’s a café. I’m told the coffee is very good there. I wouldn’t know. What I can vouch for, however, is the quality of their brownies. I don’t have to tell you how inspiring good chocolate can be.
  • Nearby gardens. We have a spot not far from our house where a beautiful garden resides. It is home to many flowering trees and bushes, several mini-waterfalls and streams, a pond with an adjacent gazebo, a sensory garden (for the blind) and a treetop teahouse. It is a source of much beauty and music.
  • Holiday spots. In particular, scenic mountains and bush retreats seem to have an inordinate amount of songs and writing ideas hovering about, just waiting to be caught. I have written many poems and songs in such idyllic locations.
  • Anywhere with people. One of my joys is people-watching, mainly because people are fascinating creatures to observe. People have quirky habits and mannerisms which tell stories of their own. Watching them, I get the urge to make up stories about them. [Insert maniacal laugh here.]
  • Dreams. Oh, what a bountiful source of original and insane creativity. I have had several fictional plots surface in the course of my dreams. I have also been caught unawares by new songs in my dreams. They are flighty creatures; once caught, they will dance away again in a trice unless they are put on paper immediately.

Perhaps, the next time we are stuck for ideas, we might try Pooh’s idea of going to those places where good ideas await us, rather than trying to hunt them down. It’s probably the easiest way of getting unstuck of which I know. Clever Pooh.

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