May 2017: The importance of turning off your left brain…

What happened to the month? Where has it gone?! One second I’m blogging about being between books and I’m dismayed to find I still am – yikes!

I mustn’t panic. I must remember that although I haven’t actually started writing book 4, I’ve spent the last month in a creative fug as I nut out a working outline.

The best thing is that it’s been wall-to-wall sunshine in the UK for the past few weeks. Not just for the odd day here and there but EVERY DAY. This is a miracle. So much so, that I have been out walking in the countryside as much as humanly possible.

A fortifying sight for any rambler…
A fortifying sight for any rambler…

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook will know this, as I’ve been posting photographs of our glorious spring, and banging on how walking is one of the best creative tools in a writer’s arsenal.

It’s to do with turning off your constraining left brain, the busy-body one that makes shopping lists and drafts emails to the local council, and allowing the right side of the brain – the creative side – to kick in.

You don’t have to go for a walk, though. You can do anything repetitive like scrubbing the floor or fly-fishing (which I love) and which occupies your body but leaves your imagination free to roam. Driving does the same thing. Coming back from Sainsbury’s when I’m mid-way through writing a book is brilliant. I drive through a wood with tall trees and the movement of the trees against the sky does something to my brain because I always have my best ideas then. Weird, but true.

A good walk is one of the many things that can clear the left side of your brain…
A good walk is one of the many things that can clear the constraining left side of your brain…

Oh, and for anyone who is interested in freeing their creative spirit, there’s a terrific book I read when I was starting out called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence.  

I’m off to CrimeFest on 18th May and hanging out with the great and good, from Ann Cleeves to Anthony Horowitz and the master of spy thrillers Mick Herron. Having such a solitary job, we all love catching up with each other (invariably at the bar) and having a good authourly gossip.  

We have to be a bit careful about our subject matter though. I remember a dozen of us having a boozy dinner in Toronto after a crime writer’s conference, and we were talking as usual about murder, the best way to dispose of a body and the like, and we had no idea we’d sent the waitress into a panic until the manager came over – he’d been ready to call the police but thought he’d check us out first. Luckily Michael Jecks had a copy of one of his medieval murder mysteries with him to prove we were legitimate!

On the reading front, I’ve just finished GJ Minett’s Lie in Wait. I’m extremely fussy about what books I take on holiday (I took this one camping on the Jurassic Coast last weekend) but having enjoyed his debut last year, I settled on taking his new one with me. It was a cracking whodunit with plenty of twists and turns and a really satisfying ending.  The perfect holiday read.  If you’re interested, you can read my review here.

I also read Poorna Bell’s Chase the Rainbow. This is an extraordinary true story, heartwarming and devastating, occasionally funny and powerful as hell.  Poorna Bell married the love of her life, Rob, totally unaware that he suffered from depression and when he committed suicide, she decided to find out how he came to such a point. Apparently, the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide, and this book helped me understand why. A vital and brave book that I couldn’t recommend more highly, review here.

OK, it’s time for a cuppa, and then I might have to start my book. It’s always daunting looking at that first blank page headed CHAPTER ONE. Eeek! Maybe I’ll have another walk first!

Wishing you all the best, and hopes that your spring (or Autumn if you’re Down Under) is happy and healthy and filled with loads of good books.

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The daunting blank page – eek!