Sunday, January 24, 2010

More on the virtues of staring out the window.

I believe we don't spend nearly enough time staring out windows. My main windows to stare out are in my living room--watching the street, waving to neighbors, seeing what my child is up to, looking for the cat--and in the home office upstairs in the back of the house. Upstairs, I can turn from my computer a quarter of a squawk (old oak office chair) and see the green leaves of the pittosporum trees that line our back fence. If I lean a bit, there's the orange tree--sour oranges, but a nice bit of color.

The squirrels and birds seem to be wrestling for power inside the leafy pittosporum--the leaves are nearly always in motion. And in the right-hand corner of the yard is the shed. Its roof provides a lounging spot for a white, feral cat who suns and sleeps there peacefully when he's not foraging for sustenance.

Something about looking out at all that green gets my creative juices bubbling again. I also get ideas from the people I see on the other side of the front window. A stranger jogs by with his dog--what's their story? Cars rip down the street with teenagers honking and waving at a friend who lives a few doors past us. There are a whole bunch of stories, or a huge cast of players for a coming-of-age novel.

Don't let yourself become short-sighted. Look out at the world, pull in some nature, stare out the windows and let the ideas roll around for a bit.


  1. A recent 3-part series "The Human Spark" (host Alan Alda) that aired on PBS showed some fascinating brain research in Part 3 of the series (which finished airing last Wednesday). In "down time" moments, our brains are actually unconsciously processing all kinds of things: remembering the past, integrating details, imagining the future. They postulate that it's the fact that human brains do this kind of work during the times when it seems that we're doing nothing at all is what leads to our incredible creativity.

    So, staring -- seemingly blankly -- out the window may be a great writing strategy. I'm going to try it. ("Don't disturb me, kids, I'm working.")

  2. Ahhh, you see. I am supported here by PBS and Deb. Thanks for that, Deb. :) That may be the same reason that if we pose our brains a problem to work on at bedtime, we awaken with some solutions.

  3. I like that suggestion. There are so many idea-starters just outside my window!