“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.”
– Michael LeBoeuf
We’ve all been there. That place where a thousand thoughts run through our minds, buzzing like flies when we try to watch our favourite shows, squirming like a canister of worms when we have our showers. They shout at us like little belligerents with their hands up in class: pick me!. Sometimes, because there are so many of them, we are overloaded, and just like a fuse box we short circuit. Kaboom. Just like that, we can’t move forward or backward; we’re stuck in place with a broken fuse. No stories are born, no stories come forth. This, I have found, is a dilemma faced by a lot of us writers.
We’ve heard over and over again from our mentors that writing is about writing and rewriting. What we forget is that this doesn’t change even when we are not actually writing a story. The easiest way to solve the plague of a million thoughts is to write. Write these thoughts down. Until we write them down they’re going to keep struggling for attention. That struggle will either become too much, frustrate our inability to focus on one story, and possibly force us to give up writing all together. Or, it’ll keep us simply dreaming of the many stories in our heads, but never actually writing any of them. Either way, the result remains the same, we end up not writing.
The same goes for our actual writing too. A lot of the time we get lots of ideas on how to move our plots forward, ideas that differ from our initial intentions for the characters. Writing the very first draft of my novel in progress, Peril of a King, I remember many times when the history of a lot the characters changed, and I had to write the backstory again and again. I remember sections of prose written in notebooks while in heavy commuter traffic that never made it onto the very first draft. Was this a waste of time? Not at all. In writing down the possibilities, I was able to sort through the noise in my head and eventually find the ideas I thought worked best.
So, if you have any ideas swimming in your head, take a minute, get a notebook, and write them down, or type them out. Whatever the case, just get them out of your head.
Till next time.