I am old enough to remember singing Harvest Festival hymns at school – and thoroughly enjoying them. I love the cycle of the farming year and where I live I am fortunate enough to see it. There are times this rural corner of West Sussex can look like something out of The Ladybird Book of Proper Farming.
Traditionally Autumn is a time for ploughing and I have long had a soft spot for the word ‘fallow’. Not just for the beautiful dear – but the concept of leaving the land to rest. The sight of warm brown corduroy fields always pleases – and a tractor with a comet-trail of gulls makes it even better.
My writing is doing that at present – having a rest.
The idea of fallow land comes from the process of crop rotation I looked into it and found a surprising and rather satisfying correlation with what I am doing.
I am deliberately taking time out before my first attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – thirty days of writing 2k a day come Hull, hell or high water. It’s a tall order – but I think it could be a fine way to bash out a rubbishy first draft and outrun both the Procrastination Imps and the Bog Monster of Self-Doubt.
If you remember your British Agrarian Revolution*, letting land lie fallow as part of crop rotation brings these benefits:
- restores nutrients to the soil
- minimises pests and diseases
- decreases soil erosion
I hope that having a planned breather will;
- give me chance to replenish my stock of inspiration (I am still researching & reading)
- minimise my errors and writing tics – avoid rehashes of same old, same old
- decrease my weariness
I will add that continuous production of the same thing in the same place leads to the need for artificial inputs. In the same way that I would endorse organic farming, I think writers need to take a holistic approach – or risk being depleted.
A change is as good as a rest they say, so I am sketching and taking notes and doing writing exercises to keep up my momentum, I hope. It’s just going in a different direction.
* and even if you don’t recall Turnip Townsend and Jethro Tull (no, not the one with the one-legged flute-player), it still does.
Fellow creators – how do you approach a new project?