on the elusiveness of ideas


I’m not really sure why, but this is one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken.

I’ve been a little short on blog post lately (by lately I mean the last two months). I’ve drifted away from diligently creating the right kind of environment that allows me to think. When I get it right ideas spring up like weeds when I don’t I feel stuck in a desert – I seem to be in one state or the other, never a middle ground.

Step one is getting enough sleep, as a natural insomniac this is a tough one for me. Add in a three year old on her own agenda and I find myself regularly in a sleep deprived mental fog. I could put a notebook beside my bed to jot down ideas that come to me at night. But, as soon as I turn on a light to do that, sleep, which is my ultimate goal, drifts further away.

My solution is to actively avoid thinking up good ideas at night, instead I play with slightly boring scenarios I’ve poached from TV shows, movies or something I’ve read – nothing I can call my own. This gives me something to think about while bypassing my monkey mind (also called the default mode network where the mind chews on itself dredging up negative tidbits and past conflicts that only creates useless worry). The goal is to relax and fall asleep. Even when I do come up with my own ideas at night I’m not convinced they are actually any good – and a full night sleep is more important as it makes it easier for me to think clearly the next day. Being clear headed enough to write begets more writing and often the ideas just flow.

Step two is to create a situation where my mind can wander. So, washing dishes works as does weeding, running, driving and even sitting on air planes. Going to a coffee shop with a blank piece of paper and no agenda but to write works, as does sitting in my comfy chair at home. My mind tends to go on tangents when I read non-fiction, enough so that I tend to read that kind of book with a notebook at hand. I often find myself putting the book aside to explore my own thoughts. The key seems to be being alone, creating space in my head and seeing what happens.

All this to say, I’ll be coming up with new posts soon.

As a tangent, after almost a decade away, I recently began dabbling with fiction writing again. Who knows if anything will come from it.