"Fiction is the purest art. Commercial fiction is the butter, the darkest chocolate, and the finest malt. That's why we are so addicted to it."--Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli
Yes, but not necessarily to think, because that takes energy, but to just be. It helps if my cat Baby hops into my lap.
If Elka and I are out for a walk, I'm focused on her and the world around me, not my kindle/phone/whatever device I sometimes see people employing while out on the sidewalk with their dog. Other than that, I don't typically take "sit and think" time in any kind of standardized way.But....I'm also one of those people whose mind will sometimes drop through a trapdoor in the stage and run along another track while having a conversation (just the right combination of words can be quite inspiring, n'est-ce pas?). Sometimes this makes for shocking non sequiturs, which is amusing in its own right, and sometimes it indeed ends up being worked onto the page.
It's quick ... but one of my five! ;)Do you let your imagination loose to play on gossamer wingsDo you daydream and let your soul wonder?Do you takes your minds harp and caress it’s sweet stringsAnd lead in it’s dance here and yonder.In the mid of the day do you let fancy take swayDo you conjure a land that is magicDo you give a princess her dreams on her own wedding dayOr end her life in a way that is tragicDo you lead a reader by nose on the yellow brick roadDo you show her the way to the landThat is fabled and lauded and enchanted and bestowedWith the spills and the thrills you have planned.If you have done all of this and created worlds without endThen you are a writer my friend!
Yes, absolutely.On my runs. Free thoughts. No agendas. Sometimes I carry along a story problem. It usually gets solved.When I garden. There's something about the sun beating down, the scent of overturned dirt, the ritual of weeding, pruning and mulching that is almost trance like. Sometimes I just sit on the porch. Hubby has offered me the paper to read and I've said, "I don't want to focus or stare at anything but what's in front of my face."
Like that, Marc P.I'm taking a real estate course. There is nothing like reading about sewage problems in a home (scum floats, sludge settles), and mortgage financing to help your mind wander. And here's the surprise. Boredom is a great way to come up with good story ideas. It's not the long walks with my dog, or conversations with my friends (usually only bad ideas come out of those), that spark my muse. She only pops up when I'm comatose with boredom. When there's nothing but the hum of a ten year old commercial jingle circling non stop through the maze of my brain (give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar). That drives my muse to madness.So, what's a writer to do? Take the time to work on her new great writing idea, inevitably enhancing her prospect of failing her real estate exam and ultimately living in one cardboard box while hoarding her great ideas in another? Or push the excitement away, and slog through sewage in order to ensure a relatively safe future?Feck it. I need bacon.
Not nearly enough and I love that Marc.When I was in Montana, I loved going to the mine and panning gold. I'd sit there for hours panning and thinking. Or sometimes I'd go outside the house and just be. Feed the deer and think. I love small towns. You can walk down the street and everyone knows you, says hello, and you can still just be alone when you want and think.In Texas I'd often get up in the middle of the night and go walk in the arena. We had a huge arena and kept the mares out there so they could run. The other mares would just wake up to see who was there, but Skidboot would make every step I did, following me like a dog while I thought. Those were good thinking sessions.Now, I just vegetate from time to time and let my mind wander. Some of my best thinking is in the gloaming when I'm in between awake and asleep.
I've been caught in a state of revery more than is convenient, it's not something I seek opportunities to do though, it just happens. Sometimes it comes on those moments when the stress is telling, I'm not sure if its a relief or burden in those circumstances because the the real world beckons without remorse. Coincidentally I did write a short story about the topic, very short, that I should probably do more with one day.
Amanda,I used to teach real estate classes. I taught everything but law, which has to be taught by a lawyer in Texas. The guy who taught our law course was great. He made the lessons so entertaining.He cited one case where a man had bought a piece of land that was interior of another man's very large piece of land. The contract stated he had the right of ingress and egress on a road. Years later, the city expands and lays a sewer line by the property. The interior dweller wanted to run a sewer line across the other man's line. The owner said no.Off to court they go and the judge ruled in favor of the original land owner saying, yes, the man does have the right of ingress and egress, but he does not have the right of egress in pieces.Focus on your real estate courses and get some writing in when you can. Even if it's just 15 minutes a day, it keeps the wheels turning.At B&W, there was an interesting writer's exercise this month. Go down the alphabet and write focused on a letter. A is for...The idea is to pick a character and write a paragraph in their POV. Write it without thinking about it much. Just do it willy nilly. Go down the alphabet as far as you want to go.It's a remarkable, quick, non-thinking exercise that just lets your mind run free.This is what I did for b. I'll probably clean it up and use it in The Rain Crow later. The beauty of doing this is freeing your brain to just play without thinking. I guess that's the opposite of what this post is about, but sometimes it's just to just let your mind roam also. I don't care much if my mind roams, but I do have to go looking for it occasionally. It tends to get lost.B is for butterfly. I sat in the garden, alone with my shock and the black-edged letter. Emily was dead? How was that possible? Suicide the servant said. They found her floating in the pond in her nightgown, just like Thomas. Then I remembered her words. I should never believe she would commit suicide, but if she died she would like to be a maroon butterfly with ivory lace. Just like the one perched on the letter looking at me now. Good luck with the real estate courses. It a good investment in your life.
Thanks Amanda and Julie... the last time I nicked a line from someone and quickly dashed off a poem it was from Nigella Lawson -so I only nick fro the best!!:)
Mark P, love, love, love it.My mind wanders during my 9 to 5, which is really a 7 to 4. Because my job is mindless in it's structure I am able to escape, sometimes. Most of the time I'm in a deep dark hole until I get home, turn on my laptop and fly. Writing gives me wings and hope.
I kind of don't want to admit how much time I spend "thinking." (Or what I'm thinking about!) I have 4 kids, but I'm frequently off imagining some catastrophe that has about a .04% chance of actually happening instead of paying attention to them to, you know, prevent a catastrophe. I need help!
Great poem, Marc!
I don't do it nearly enough as of late.Marc, wonderful poem!
I try. I go yoga every Friday, and during shavasna I clear my mind. In the morning, with my coffee, I sit and think. This all happens before the kids get up. Once they're up there is no time to think!
No, I take breaks from work to write. If writing isn't relaxing to you maybe you should find some other way to cast your particular brand of crazy into the ether.
I have to be careful about letting my mind wander free. It likes to go to dark corners (not the interesting ones, just the boring ones it goes to every day) and sit there and feel sorry for itself. I do find that I can keep that part of my brain in check by playing simple games. And if the games are mindless enough, that leaves the creative part of my mind free to play in its own little labyrinths. I also get plenty of time just sitting and thinking on the bus. (I can't read or write on the bus, because I get a bit of motion sickness, which is just enough to ruin any creative thinking.)Marc P - is it okay if I print out that poem and put it on my wall?Amanda: How about 'Tweet tweet. Twiddle twiddle. There's only one candy with a hole in the middle'? I get that one a LOT. Although the KitKat one likes to visit, too. And it's visiting right now, thank you very much.In a now-defunct writer's group, we did an exercise on free writing. For... 10 minutes, I think it was, we were to only write stream of thought. Whatever came into our minds, we wrote it without stopping or censoring. Then, we were to write the next part of our WIP (work in progress). My mind balked at the WIP, so I just started writing something... and it was very interesting. I might have to dig that up again. It was a start to a story or novel (I don't know which at this point, I only wrote about 1000 words). But the voice wasn't the same voice I used in my WIP, which I find interesting.
Hey BJmuntain lol.. of course.. I can edit it a bit if you like, that was just off my head.. of course Janet has the copyright! :) And thanks.. :)
Marc: I'll print this off now, and if you do edit it, I'd love to see it. :)
Nicole Roder, to overuse a familiar phrase, been there, done that. Catastrophe and kids, they're grown now, they can handle anything - right? And THEN along came a grandchild and I'm right back where you are now.
I have a horse and twenty acres to maintain. Various chores (as well as trail riding) give me plenty of time to unplug and let my mind wander. (Mucking stalls is excellent for this.)When I'm indoors, I've found housework to be another task that lets my mind wander.
Aww, my cozy burrito boy. Some day soon 'twill be the season once again to wrap him in that super-soft blanket.As it happens, much as Kitty says, pets help a great deal in disconnecting us from laptops, phones, etc. Gossamer himself is very, very good at this; as is his pal Penelope. Goss's being called the Editor Cat was sort of a joke when Janet came up with it, but he not only distracts me from "stuff" perfectly, he *does* make me want to write. Sitting in my office, he comes to visit on the desk or curls up on his soft window bed, and keeps a luminous green eye on me. And his purrrrrrr is good for almost anything that ails.Pen has her own methods.I have the best (and cutest) writing partners I could ask for. :)
Absolutely. All my stories start with what-if-ing in my head. Maybe it's a by-product of being, um, not as socially engaged as others that I spent a lot of time with my imagination, and have done for as long as I remember.But I don't always just let my mind wander. I also spend time reflecting, thinking about life, issues, what's going on in the world at large and my world in particular. What do I think about x? How does my thinking about x reconcile with my thinking about y? Am I consistent? Do I need more information before I can come to an opinion? I highly recommend this exercise. If more people spent time in reflection instead of knee-jerk reaction, or blind acceptance of everything some talking head says... well, let's just say I doubt people would say half the stupid things they say, or do half the stupid things they do. :)
Sometimes life gets so hectic that thinking is a luxury!
WOW! the WPA (worldwide public announcement) on Query Shark should be required reading for each writer thinking of sending out queries. Pretty cool Post Sharque!So much work, so little time, and not a shot of Chum to be found.cheers HankOf course all the archives should be devoured!
Do I let my imagination loose, my mind run wild? HA! Are you implying there's a way to rein it in? Good thing school was always so easy for me or I'd still be stuck in second grade, staring out the window, lost in daydreams.Nice poem, Marc!Hank, thanks for spelling out WPA. I had no idea what that meant, other than maybe World Panda Association. I agree, excellent QS post and everyone should imprint it somewhere.
Thanks Hank - that's a great post! Everyone check it out: WPA, on Query Shark It's everything you need to know about writing a query letter, in one concise blog post.I've already shared it to Twitter and Facebook.
Julie, thanks for the pep talk, and the sewer story. Seriously, that was kind of interesting. There's hope for my future in real estate yet. And sorry, bj. If you're going to have an ear worm, a commercial jingle is probably not your first choice.
WPA Works Progress Association. They built dams and bridges and other infrastructure in the late 30s to employ folks who lost their jobs during and after the Great Depression.They hired artists too.NO, I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER IT. MY MOM AND DAD TOLD ME ABOUT IT. So what's this about something called a query?
Thanks so much for the heads-up about the QueryShark WPA (Carolynn, you beat me to it. I read that acronym as Works Progress Administration too… guess it has a certain logic, though). I've PDF-ified and saved it in about a trillion different places. I notice that comments don't seem to be enabled, and that the blog entry is a wonderfully comprehensive overview that we can keep for handy reference. A valuable, generous, and wise gift. (It's not any kind of final summing-up, is it? Janet, please tell me how absurd this apprehension is, and that I need to flit back into my woodland and find a great big clue-stick to hit myself over the head with. Or maybe I'm just too tired to think straight - it's stupid o'clock here, and where I really need to flit is off to bed.)To Gossamer the winged cat, yes, I do have regular silent time each day to disengage the gears of my mind and let them free-spin. Sometimes they come off the mountings altogether and fly away - a vital element of the creative life. It also keeps us humble: the more distant a perspective you can gain on the daily "I" who's used to running the show (or struggling to keep up while the show runs you), the more you realise how little that self really knows.Yep. Definitely time to get some sleep…
All night in my dreams which is why I am forced to keep a notebook on my nightstand and why my husband used to frequently poke me during the night to 'turn the damned light out, would you?' Now, I just write the wings in the dark and hope I can read them in the morning. :)
PS: I too kept the WPA on Query Shark because it's the best 'class' I've ever had on writing a query and FREE! QOFKU, I bow to your wisdom and thank you!
Hi guys...I've never commented here before (not being a writer, just someone who accidentally clicked over here once and then got hooked on your witty banter and awesome sense of community) but after reading Janet's WPA post I did a bit of googling, and I think that it is actually the presentation she did at the Writer's Police Academy. WPA, right? :)Or maybe you already all knew that. It is hard to tell sometimes!Anyway, keep up the good work all of you...I love reading both the posts and the comments!
Hello, sonja! Ooo... good piece of detective work. Well done. That sounds right to me--see HERE! Indeed, this came up in the conversation over the past week or so.
I've decided WPA s a secret code and actually stands for WASHINGTON PANDA ALERT. Because Mei Xiang, the giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington, gave birth to a panda cub today. Fingers crossed that it survives and lives a long and happy life.http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/giant-panda-preparing-to-give-birth-national-zoo-says/2015/08/22/bba0fd2c-4804-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.htmlOK, fine. It's not the most likely explanation. But it's the one that makes me and my wandering imagination happy. So I'm not even off topic. Much.
See, my problem is that I don't make time to stop thinking and do useful things. Or, I suppose I should say, do other useful things--thinking is very useful.
There's an interesting piece in a recent Brainpickings newsletter which relates to this issue. Nice illustrations, too. http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/10/leisure-the-basis-of-culture-josef-pieper/
Hammock time is great for letting the mind chill. Weeding in the garden and long drives along the beach used to be until I discovered Overdrive. Now I almost always have an audio book going.Housework is great for generating ideas. Lots of plot problems untangle themselves while I'm cleaning.My favorite chill time was watching the sunsets back home. From the pier at the end of our street the sun sets exactly in the middle of Mobile Bay. It's a sight to behold. I've lived all over the world and nowhere that I've been so far tops it. It's ruined me for anywhere else. "That's gorgeous, but it's in the wrong place." When I'm there, time stops and I just kick back and enjoy.
Too funny. I Googled Fairhope sunsets and came up with a bunch.
Forgot to mention Morning Pages are also great for mind rambling. It's amazing what comes up. (Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way - 3 pages of longhand writing first thing in the morning ).
Doris Lessing used to find housework great for getting her mind into neutral gear and allowing creative ideas to swim to the surface too. Sure wish I could do that! She won the Nobel Prize for Literature, so you guyz must be doing something right.
I never have to make time to think. I think when I drive to work, eat lunch, walk through the world, clean, and cook. I have a problem with thinking when I should be sleeping. I think I may have to schedule time not to think.
Jennifer, my mind does the same thing! Glad to know I'm not the only one :)
Gardening is a great time for me to let my mind wander. I have gotten and worked on many creative ideas while bludgeoning nature into submission. (I live on 5 very unruly acres, so no Ms nice guy in my garden...give blackberries and inch and they will engulf your house.)
The WPA post is amazing. I'm printing it out as I type.I think when I peg the washing on the line outside. It's the perfect time as the kids will never bother me when I am doing that (they might have to help!) and it's a mindless job so my thoughts can wander.
Okay, I'm late and off topic, but I LOVE sonja's post. And hope you will comment with us more!
Do crossword puzzles count? My brain is always crunching, but I rarely take time to do nothing but think. You know, other than therapy.
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