Coach Marla Beck

The Writers’ Guide to Moodling

by Marla

in brilliant mindset, brilliant self-care, brilliant writing life

Being a grownup writer can be fun, right?

  • You can earn money in the marketplace with your writing, if you choose…
  • You can help make the world a better place by volunteering or writing for organizations you care about…
  • You’ve got the skills you need to develop interesting ideas, combine new elements, pursue new lines of inquiry…and the opportunity to practice the tenacity and courage it takes to actually get your projects written!
  • Being a writer” is a noble and beautiful calling.

But for all the grownup “trying” and “doing” you do every day…don’t you ever feel like giving yourself a break?

The Art of the Near-Moodle.

One morning last week, I had the same coaching conversation 3 different times, with 3 different writers.

At some point, each of these coaching calls went something like this:


“And what about downtime….tell me about the fun you’re having lately?”

The Writers:

“Sure!  Well, I’m having some fun.  In fact, just the other day…”

[I noticed their voices would get a bit quieter at this point.]




“So just the other day,” they continued, “I let myself sit down and have some fun.”

“In fact,” they reported…

  • “I worked on the sweater I’ve been knitting for a friend…”
  • “I planned the vacation we’re taking in August…”
  • “I decided with my wife which apples we’re going to grow in our orchard next year…”


“Wow.  Hmm.  Ok…”

As a coach, I was underwhelmed.

You see, my writer-clients were relaxing a bit, it’s true.  But each time I witnessed these driven writers talking about their downtime, it took us each a few minutes to figure out why their fun sounded “ho-hum” and not “Nice!”

The truth is this:

Each of these writers relaxed, yes.  But as they relaxed…they still pursued a goal.  Even in their downtime, they focused their bodies and their attention on achieving some useful outcome.

“C’mon, Marla!” I can hear you saying. “They were gifting their friends, planning their vacations, their orchards…”

“Yes,” says this coach.  “And…”

The Art of Real Moodling.

It’s great to focus on leisure when you’re taking a break from work, family or writing.

But please don’t make the mistake many writers do.

If you’re not feeling as fresh or inspired as you’d like, the key is to allow yourself a good stretch of time to engage, relax and moodle.

Moodling is not:

– going for a walk and timing yourself or measuring the distance you traveled.  (Check out Brenda Ueland’s simple, profound If You Want to Write for more about the art of walking — moodlingly.)

Moodling is:

– time spent in the flow state, where you’re enjoying what you’re doing simply because it’s fun,  The key?  When you moodle, your goal is simply to be present, and your actions ultimately serve no utilitarian purpose.

An Easy Way to Moodle.

So now it’s time to confess: I’m still learning the fine art of moodling, too.

That’s why last Saturday I sat down with my daughter, her box of 64 crayons and a white sheet of paper.

I colored the page. I smiled at my daughter. And as one hour turned into another, I caught myself thanking my lucky stars that we certainly seem to teach what we need to learn ourselves.

After an hour-and-a-half passed, I saw a page covered with color on the table.

(See that picture up there….?)

And my experience this past weekend reminded what you and I already know:

Moodling escorts us to “expansiveness,” to the open windy field” Rumi often speaks of.

Moodling gives us freedom.

Don’t Just Read This: Get It In Your Body.

Last weekend I was reminded of the difference between knowing something with your mind and actually integrating that experience and knowledge in your body.

I was reminded that we learn to moodle by moodling.

So today I challenge you set aside a little time later — 15 minutes will do.

Allow yourself to expand and relax and enjoy your time.  Don’t do a dang thing productive.


I’ll Meet You There.

After I put my daughter to bed tonight, I’m going to head to my room, close the door and grab my guitar.

Not to practice, write a song or work out a rough passage in a song I already know.

But to let go and relax.


Will you get a few crayons out and join me?

How will you moodle today?


If your writing career needs a jolt of fire, energy and inspiration, sign up here to learn 3 keys to renewing your creativity, vitality and forward momentum.  Get your free MP3 recording and 13-page transcript to download and keep.  It takes fire in the belly to go for your writing dreams.

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