I Love My Pocket Journal
Yesterday in the comments to Inside Out Thinking: Catching Ideas Coming In and Going Out, Hans at Blogosquare asked a question that was one I had when I first started writing. That made me think that others might have it as well. You see, Han’s problem is that he has too many ideas and his exuberance makes him anxious to use them all as soon as he gets them.
. . . I just donÃ¢â¬â¢t have to sit back and wait for thoughts, actually they are filling me. When I get a thought, . . . I just canÃ¢â¬â¢t wait for that thought to leave me. So I write it down quickly, quickly and post it and there when I see it I feel much relieved.
How in fact to you deal with thoughts when they come in? Should I set myself to some relaxation or things like this? All day long everything I see, read, and hear just give me thoughts and ideas. . . . Right now after reading the post above, I just got that thought and couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t wait to put it down, to get it off my mind. Am I not normal? [edited with Hans permission]
Hans, my friend, I value you and your passion for writing. Turn the page and I’ll answer your question with the seriousness it deserves.
Fine Wine and Compelling Writing
Some things are meant to be done with speed. Taking a curve in a nice sports car is the only way to fully experience it. Other things become better, deeper, and more meaningful, if we know how to give them time breathe. Like great cognac, compelling writing doesn’t just happen by putting the ingredients together. It takes time and watchful care for them to mature into something lasting and wonderful.
I used to have the same problem as Hans — too many ideas, chasing me, wanting attention, vying to be the first to get themselves into words so that I could move on. To me writing was about expressing fast and neatly — what some call a knee jerk reaction. The problem with writing too fast and too soon is that the writing is almost all heart and no head.
Now I’ve learned that great cognac takes longer and tastes better, and the thoughts that take longer to think often say more. Head and heart together bring a stronger message, tell a deeper story, resonate with readers.
Getting Control Over Those Anxious Ideas
Learning that thinking longer was a good start, but it didn’t help much. The ideas were still bouncing around in my head. I had to get a system that would make me feel in control, comfortable knowing I could keep the joy and exuberance of the moment when the idea struck without using up the idea by writing too fast. Here’s what I learned and what I recommend
1. Get a small notebook/journal. I have one that fits in the back pocket of my jeans. I can have it with me wherever I go. In your case, if they are on sale, buy 2 or 3 or 10. 🙂
2. When you get those ideas, write them down as fast as you get them. Keep the BIG thoughts, the important ideas, the ones that touch your soul, tug your heart, spark your imagination, tickle your feelings, amaze you, stun you, teach you, reach you in any way.
3. Write those BIG ideas as sentences or “sound bites” or draw little pictures to capture the time. Do whatever you must to make an imprint — record a quote a friend said in conversation. Choose anything to be your doorway that will bring you back.
4. Look at your list when you want, but do not write for 24 hours. Give yourself time to breathe too. You’ll be surprised at the new perspectives and points of view the distance will bring you. You might even think of it as new wisdom in a way.
5. Before you write, reflect. Shut out the world. Take yourself back to where you were when you took that BIG thought down. Experience it again. This time try to see it in slow motion, as if you are watching a movie, recall as much as you can with each of your senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.
PLUS ONE: As you do the fifth one, prewrite what you recall in words, phrases, and sentences. Now you have a rich basis from which to write. You don’t have to use all that you write, nor do you have to stay within what you write. You’ve fully opened your brain to the experience. You’re ready to share your thoughts in words.
Think about what you would have written before and what you would write now. The difference is taking the time to let your idea mature. Your subconscious has made connections to what you already know about. Your conscious has gotten distance to see the idea in a new way.
That’s added value by bridging the gap between you and your reader. You won’t leaveout things that they don’t know, because you’ve stood back to look and thought the experience through.
You have married your heart and your head in your writing. Readers might not know that, but they feel it when they read.
Head and heart are a compelling combination. It’s worth every minute to be able to say, “I deliver that to my readers. That is my brand.”
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Inside Out Thinking: Catching Ideas Coming In and Going Out
DonÃ¢â¬â¢t Hunt IDEAS Ã¢â¬â Be an Idea Magnet
Arlo Guthrie, a Pickle, and 5 Signs YouÃ¢â¬â¢re Forcing a Bad Idea to Work
Finding Fodder for Future Ideas