Writer’s Mind

You don’t have to be crazy to be a writer. But it helps.

There’s a reason most writers are a little unhinged. Einstein is often quoted for saying insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. I wonder if he realised he was describing a typical day for a writer. Every day we wake up and think to ourselves that today is going to be the day; the day the words flow freely; the day we have a breakthrough; maybe, just maybe, today is the day we feel vindicated in chasing this outrageous idea.

We spend our days alone staring at an empty screen, a blank page, an uncapped pen. We are our biggest critics, we give ourselves hell and nothing is ever good enough. But we keep doing it. We’re never satisfied and that’s why we keep writing. We write to quiet our monkey minds. We can sit for hours typing and deleting, scrawling and scratching but most of the time it doesn’t matter, we still can’t wrestle that monkey mind into giving up an eloquent thought. That is until we stop trying, and then time stops as we race to tap the keys, not caring how many errors we make, or put ink to paper, an unintelligible scramble of scribbles, cursive letters joined in their facile attempt to keep up.

We can waste time like we have another day hidden up our sleeve. We can squander away daylight hours with an empty mind, usually followed by a night of tossing and turning as whole verses, half sentences or ten letter words fly by in front of us. They taunt us, disjointed in a way we’d never be able to make sense of on paper. We lay there not knowing whether to cry ourselves to sleep or to give in and drag our apathetic self out of bed to find a writing utensil with which to write down the inarticulate drivel that makes a kind of sense at the time but come the light of day we realise our time could have been better spent punching our pillows.

We sit and we look unblinkingly at nothing. We gaze out of windows. We stare at walls. From the outside we look calm, bored, maybe even content but if you could only hear the senseless chatter that sets us in this catatonic state, you’d wonder why we haven’t run from the room screaming. We are stumped by a single word. We will sit there looking like we’re trying to levitate the pen we’re staring at, the word right there we can almost see it, we can almost hear it. Nine out of ten times we can never find the one we’re searching for. We’ll find one that works, that does the job but it will never be the one we were looking for. That perfect description, the one word that would make us feel like less of a hack.

Single thoughts pop into our head at the most inopportune of times and are gone just as quickly, leaving us scrambling to find them again, to scrounge together the soliloquies and consonants that sounded so perfect. We miss our stop, we stand in the middle of the road, we stop listening to someone mid-sentence, we bump into people on otherwise empty sidewalks, we stumble on steps and only half rinse out our shampoo in our haste to remember before we forget, furiously trying to get the words down on any scrap of paper we can find.

We get up early. We stay up late. We forget to eat. We lose track of time. We can be surrounded by people but hear nothing other than the diatribe going on in our head as we try to find our way through a fog that has been suspended around our brain. We are exhausted from paying attention to everything going on around us, always in search for that moment where a clear thought is inspired by a single word, the way someone walks, a fleeting object. We ramble. We follow a thought to its, sometimes, logical (but most of the time illogical) point of end. We find ways to write what we could never say, things we would never have the guts to do.

We are usually emotionally unavailable adults who act like children when we have a bad day or don’t get our way. We have habits that need to be fulfilled before we can sit and concentrate. We tend to embrace our vices; healthy and unhealthy, productive and destructive alike. We procrastinate as we work to disregard that voice of self-doubt; ignoring our personal problems, running our lungs out, drowning our sorrows so that we can wake at 2 in the morning with a string of not quite coherent sentences racing through our minds.

We’re stubborn, just like our words. Forcing them out feels wrong. Sometimes we can get away with waiting for them to come to us. Other times we have to put our head down and ignore that dirty feeling until the words give in, emerging one by one, the reader none the wiser to the hate and resentment attached to each sentence. We get defensive when someone asks what we’re working on. Not because we think they might steal the idea, but because we’re so invested, so attached, that the thought of telling them, having them give an opinion while we’re still struggling to find our words is the worst feeling a writer can have. Once it’s set in stone we don’t care if you like it or not. But judge it before then and it’ll break a writer’s heart.

Being a writer isn’t for the faint hearted. Our days are filled with relentless loops. We do the same thing over and over, all the while with a hope to lay our content head on a dry pillow and sleep through the night. We spend hours talking to ourselves, talking to fictional characters, living in imaginary places and playing out imaginary scenarios.

You don’t have to be crazy to be a writer. But it helps.


5 thoughts on “Writer’s Mind

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  1. Reblogged this on lmnelsonscorner and commented:
    “You don’t have to be crazy to be a writer. But it helps.

    There’s a reason most writers are a little unhinged. Einstein is often quoted for saying insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. I wonder if he realised he was describing a typical day for a writer.” See the original article to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

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