Skip to main content

Filling the Well

Many of my writing ideas have been composting in my mind for years. Whether they first occurred to me when I visited a museum or in a dream, I write them down and put them away. As writers our biggest investment is ourselves - our mind, our imagination, our daydreaming.

And that mind is a well. I try to fill that well with stuff - over and above the regular habits of living itself. Here are my favourite ways to fill the well.

a) Reading widely - I read memoirs, philosophy, history and atlases. I read fiction from many different countries, folktales and ghost stories. Reading widely introduces me to a wider range of ideas. But I'm also aware of who I'm reading and what their perspectives are/were.

b) Going to art galleries - This gives me masterclasses in perspective. I try and compare the title of the piece to the art itself to see what the artist was thinking. In galleries like Tate, they also describe the context of the art produced and that helps to understand the motivation (or lack thereof).

c) Going to museums - History does repeat itself and knowing where anything came from - be it computers (as in the Applied Maths exhibition in Science Museum) or where humans came from (British  Museum), the effects of colonialism or the evolution of mankind through its checkered past, I love to absorb. But because I'm also constantly evaluating and understanding the information, I don't do more than a couple of galleries in each visit. I take notes and record in photos those exhibits that hinted a story to me.

Mathematics at the Winton Gallery, Science Museum


d) Reading Scriptures and Mythology - I binge on reading stories from Hindu epics, the story of Persian conquerors of India and little known stories of saints and gods. I never know when I need a character I can emulate. I interpret the ancient philosophies and see whether they stand the test of time - whether those moral definitions hold true still.



e) Reading History - I try to read both official accounts and lot more autobiographies set in the times I'm interested in. I like to unearth little known stories, find people lost in the pages of an ancient book. Those stories are worth telling.

How do you fill your well? Tell me about your interesting activities.

Comments