As writers we need quiet, contemplative time.
When I was being mentored by writer Mrs M. at a very young age, she thought 'thinking time' was an indulgence, a luxury that could be ill afforded because it was all about producing, the writing, the quantity, the content.
I cannot be too hard on Mrs M because she taught me some valuable lessons about writing process, self discipline, marketing, publishing, the tools of the writer's trade, and I remind myself that Mrs M. came from a journalistic background. She wrote for newspapers and she wrote a lot, all the time in fact, and she wrote to deadlines which didn't leave much time for that part about writers that can be hard to understand ... quiet contemplation, the time we spend thinking, imagining, not writing.
My cat Betsy is very good at it. She is very old now, going on 21, and so spends a lot of her time just looking at things, sitting quietly, or lying down, and every evening during the winter, there is nothing she looks forward to more than the lighting of the wood burner. This is her most beloved time for contemplation. Around 4pm she takes her place before the cold wood burner and waits ... waits for the staff to come with the newspaper, the kindling, the basket of dry wood. She almost climbs inside the burner, such is her anticipation. Up flare the flames, swirling goes the smoke, and voila .. fire and heat. Delicious.
It took me a while to realise Mrs M's stalwart 'produce!' attitude wasn't the best for me. I had to find the right balance between production and contemplative time.
I needed freedom to think, to ponder, to mull things over, to look up and look down, to contemplate my life, the world around me ... and all of this would eventually distill down into writing, a concentrated dose of sweetness, or sadness, or joy, or darkness ... whatever it happened to be. It took some time before I could allow myself this meditative peace that is as essential to the creative process as the warmth of the fire is to Betsy-cat's old bones and happiness every evening.
Every now and then I still get anxious about lack of 'output' and so I look to Betsy and her wise behaviour of just 'being', watching, sniffing, and I would add hearing to m,y list but not hers as Miss B is almost entirely deaf now. I, too, enjoy our fire time. We both stretch out in the heat, have our respective beverages (hers a small dish of milk, mine a shot of whisky), and share stories of the day.