"Moodling"

“The Imagination works slowly and quietly.” —Brenda Ueland

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” —Franz Kafka

If you have tried all the above methods and feel comfortable letting your imagination wander and play with odd ideas without immediately discarding them, then you may be ready to try “moodling.” In fact, if you typically use brainstorming, then you probably do a bit of moodling between ideas anyway.

The etymology of the word "moodle" is unclear, but it was used in the early 20th century to basically dawdle and idle away time while letting your mind wander. In this case, it basically means daydreaming with a pencil in your hand—you can do it on a computer, but I think it is more productive with the added quiet of pencil and paper—and not forcing yourself to write anything until you are moved to do so.

Again, this method tends to be useful for more experienced writers who already know they won’t immediately ignore odd ideas and who are very patient. And yet it can sometimes produce some of the most interesting, innovative ideas of any of the methods.

  • Give yourself an hour or more;
  • Sit at your desk, preferably in front of a window, with pen or pencil and paper (or computer);
  • Write down your topic;
  • Then write something only when you feel like it; it can be on topic or off topic; if you are moved, write.
  • Do NOT force anything. Don’t worry if you don’t write a single word for even a whole hour. You are still priming the pump of your imagination, letting the dust of life settle and gaining access to your deepest levels of mind and creativity, and still thinking.
  • Don’t worry about grammar, naturally, unless, of course, you think of a great sentence that you want to preserve;
  • After a while, or the next time you sit down, even if you return to one of the methods above, ideas will pour forth out of you, and you will have more ideas and inspiration then if you didn’t moodle beforehand.