Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where Magic Happens: Busy Body, Blank Mind

I forget this a lot, so I thought I'd bring it up. I type away at my computer or write in my bathtub, but there are certain problems that are difficult to solve just sitting there. And the solution can be SO EASY and yet I forget it all the time...

Now SOMETIMES I can hit it in those wee hours as I wake up... I love that—a near dream that is a perfect book solution. But I can't force that—it is a wonderful gift when it happens, but it is unpredictable and worse, unreliable.

But there IS something I CAN do.

Go For a WALK!!!!

Now there are some rules.

No music. (I know, sorry. But it will block all that free floating gray matter)

Best to do it somewhere without a lot of external stimuli... I mean sure, pretty flowers or leaves, cool houses... SOME is good, but not maybe, an active running trail. You want your brain to be able to ZONE. I think as we form new and unexpected paths with our feets, our brains form new and unexpected paths and connections that SOLVE all those plot problems.

Oh. And take a notebook. (otherwise you are limited to ONE moment of brilliance and repeating that same thought until you finally can get somewhere to write it—WITH a notebook, you are only limited by the time you are out (and your capacity to write while walking, but you COULD stop to write, if you aren't stubborn enough to just do both at once).

I'm totally this glamorous
I usually read when I walk to work. Or edit. And when I exercise, I often walk with a friend. So I am having a conversation. Whatever the case, I can go long enough between these quiet walks that I FORGET how BRILLIANT I am when I get out of my own darn way. Erm.

Seriously, I DO forget how my brain can do that. I crave the reading or the conversation, or even the music to make the exercise go faster. But yesterday morning I knew I had some thinking to do and I REMEMBERED!!! And I got to work with 5 pages of notes for this final revision and they are BRILLIANT. Well okay, maybe they are only good. But they ARE good. I finally have my satisfactory ending. It had eluded me in this book.

So there you go. Next time you feel muddled, go for a walk. You're welcome.

(Anybody else have tricks they use when the answers just aren't falling into place?)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Walks do help. Or a trot on the treadmill. I usually pick up my guitar and practice a bit.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Walking for me clears the mind. I have to be sure to bring something to record my thoughts as they surface.

I wish I could read and walk at the same time.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I really enjoy walking. My problem is I don't do it enough and too readily grab onto the first excuse for NOT going.

Raquel Byrnes said...

The notebook idea is gold. I always lie to myself and tell myself "I'll remember..." and then I don't.
Edge of Your Seat Stories

Jan Morrison said...

I do this but not with a notebook. why? because that starts the left brain logic wheel humming. Trust that your insights will emerge after your walk. really. you are capable of keeping things in your mind. it might take some practice but you'll get there. Also, no music, no pals, and only a well-behaved dog - not two! Also - Lose Your Mind and Come to Your Senses. When you find you are being discursive - must do this, must do that, what's for dinner - come back to your senses - how your body feels moving through space, the smells, colours, sounds etc... rinse and repeat.

Andrew Leon said...

I have a great trail right by my house, and I do walk. I read when I do it, though.

Helena said...

Music distracts me too. Sometimes just quieting my mind and getting past all the noise can help me find solutions and ideas. And words! If my mind ain't quiet I can't here the words or narrative voice. And I must hear those voices! (Kinda scary, isn't it?)

G. B. Miller said...

Walking and work (believe it or not) helps clear the mind. With work, because I have a relatively tedious job that only has deadlines for 4 out of the 10 days I'm there, so quite often I'll fix a good chunk of my writing related problems while I'm there.

The Inner Sibling