Continuing the series Inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, let’s spend some time this week talking about the ways in which we can declutter our minds as writers.
You know how it goes; you sit down to write and you start thinking about that item you need to add to the grocery list, you recall that really annoying thing a coworker said to you and you start analyzing why he or she said it in the first place, you remember that your child has a soccer practice tomorrow and you start mentally trying to figure out if you have time to pick her up afterward or if you should arrange a ride for her with another player’s parents…the list goes on. Now if you’re capable of simply “emptying your mind” of all of this useless information by a simple exercise of willpower…kudos. If you’re like me, and need some reminders for how to declutter your headspace, here are some things to consider:
- Write down all of these bizarre and/or unproductive thoughts you’re having. Putting these things down on paper empties your mind of them, allows you to look at them, analyze them and then put them aside for a time when they become more relevant. Also, any writing gets the writing juices flowing. Who knows, maybe stream of conscious ranting about an interaction at work could create a meaningful dialogue in an upcoming chapter of yours!
- Focus or meditate on nothing. ‘Now empty your mind of all of your worries and attachments,’ she says, calm as a cow in the downward dog position, her yoga pants screaming enlightenment as she hums a long ‘Ommmmmmmmmm,’ followed by Namaste–or something ridiculously cliché to that same effect. As silly as it sounds, trying to think of ‘nothing,’ or meditating is serious business, and something I would never call myself talented at. Trying to actually let go of the idea that you and all of your little problems and anxieties are at the center of the universe is like trying not to blink. Practicing this focus on nothing will help temporarily remove our focus on that giant ego we all have (and would never, if only begrudgingly admit to having), and help you become present in the task at hand: namely, writing.
- Put on some music, and go out for a walk or run or a spin on the bike. Exercise (with or without music) is a fantastic way to help you process all of those nagging thoughts cluttering up your mind space. Exercising with music supposedly activates your frontal lobe (the area in your brain associating with higher mental function), and not only that, it gives you something else to meditate on–lyrics perhaps. Focus on the words in the song, seek inspiration in the creativity of music. Meditate on putting one foot in front of the other if the whole Namaste thing is too much for you. Moving meditation is my favorite form, and it always helps boost my creativity.
- Take a nap. If you have way too much going on in your head to write, take a snooze. Let those things drift away into Never Never Land and wake up feeling refreshed. A nap is like a reset button later in the day. We only get more and more stressed out starting the minute we shut off the alarms anyway, so go back into that bliss-like state of nothingness that is slumber. Maybe you’ll even dream up an interesting scenario for your main character to overcome in the midst.
- Listen to a podcast or call a friend. A one-sided conversation with a podcast is my favorite means for readjusting my focus. If I want to write about anxiety or loneliness and I’m unable to focus, I’ll search YouTube to see what some of my literary or philosophical love interests have said on the matter. Listening to someone I truly respect and whose opinion I long to have on any matter in my life always get my brain gears turning. Especially since I can’t talk back to them, but can only entertain the conversation in my mind. This makes me want to write to no avail; it makes me want to express my thoughts triggered by someone else’s ideas. This same effect can be achieved by calling a friend who you love discoursing with as well–just make sure to not get too carried away and forget to get back to work at all.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠