Monday, September 19, 2016

Using That Big Lump On Top of Your Neck

Awhile back I wrote about The Power of Reflection, and today I'd like to expound upon that a little bit more, but from a slightly different angle.

We live in a world of action. We are go, go, go, 24/7, and it seems as if there's this general consensus that if you want to get things done, then you need to act. Act now! Don't wait! Want to learn more? Then read and study! Want to have a tidier home? Then tidy! Want to be a writer? Then write!

While these are all good things to do, there is an essential part of the puzzle that has disappeared from our collective psyche, a part that used to be a common pastime, but has been swept out of our busy culture with smartphones and extracurriculars and to-do lists. And it is this:


Wait, you say. I think all the time! Right now I'm thinking about this blog post! You can't tell me I'm an empty-headed busybody! 

Yes, but when was the last time you just sat and thought, without doing anything else? And I mean, anything else? I'm not talking about thinking when you're lying in bed trying to fall asleep (trust me, that's a terrible time to think), not when you're driving in the car, or making dinner, or exercising. There's nothing wrong with multitasking, especially when it's the only time you have- but then again, if that's the only time you have, there might be something wrong.

When was the last time you just sat still, in a comfortable, quiet place, for the sole purpose of thinking?

For most people, this sounds ludicrous. It feels like a waste of time. But is it?

I love this quotation, because it perfectly illustrates why thinking is so important. So many times when we are facing a problem or dilemma, we immediately search for a solution. We try the first quick fix we find. We google it. We talk to our friends. We look for a book at the library. We espouse a method of trial and error. We hack away at that tree with a dull axe.

But how often do we take the time to actually just think about it?

On Friday I was working in my craft room/office. I had already been through the KonMari process in there of deciding what sparked joy. I had gotten rid of the junk and put the joy-sparkers away, but the room was still a clutter magnet. It hadn't ever "clicked" and I didn't know why. 

So...I thought about it. I stopped trying to clean up and I sat down in the middle of the room and looked around and thought. I thought and thought. I realized it wasn't pretty. I still had all the stuff that sparked joy, but it just wasn't pretty and I didn't know how to make it pretty without taking it all out. 

So then- and only then- I went on Pinterest for some inspiration. I realized that I had figured out the problem, but I still didn't know the solution. I knew where I was, but I didn't know where I was going. And how could I get there if I didn't know where "there" was?

I paged through beautiful craft rooms and I started to get a feel for what I liked and how I wanted my room to look. So I went back into the room and sat.

And thought.

And thought some more.

I mentally rearranged the shelves. Then I mentally rearranged them again, because the first arrangement didn't work. Could I put those books over there? But then where would that stuff go? How about if I moved those supplies over- no, they won't fit. What about over there? That might work. But then what about the other...? Do I need to buy more containers? I don't want to buy more containers. How can I make this work?

It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle in my mind, and I didn't move until I'd worked out a plan. 

The whole plan didn't come together all at once; there were several things I had to physically try to see if they'd work before I could continue. Some worked, some didn't. But I can unequivocally say that I probably saved myself about 10 hours of work and months of disappointment with just those 20 minutes of thinking.

And I now have a beautiful, peaceful space to call my own (and the only I thing I bought was the fitted sheet to cover the futon- the rest was all brainpower!)

Now let's talk about your writing. I know, I know, we say, "Just write! It doesn't have to be pretty! If you want to be a writer, then write!" I still agree with that, but there will come times when writers' block will stop you dead in your tracks, and then what?

If you're like me, you will delicately set your laptop (or notebook, or whatever) to the side and stare at it like it's a rat you just discovered in your sock drawer. You will stomp your foot and complain on facebook. You will grab your computer again and stare at the blinking cursor with contempt and then start to pull your hair out in frustration.

You can do all those things. You have my permission. But when you're done, could also do one more thing?


Just sit in a quiet, comfortable place. Light a scented candle if you like. Think about your book and your characters. Don't force yourself to solve the problem. Just think about it. Try different options in your mind- don't write them, just give them a mental whirl and see how they feel. Then try some more. Think, think, think. 

You might be surprised at what your brain can do for you. ;-)

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