By Milli Thornton
4/25/12 – It’s the 10K Day today and I just learned a fun trick about listening to write.
I had my writing plans for the day, which included some journaling, a little fiction, several blog posts and some lessons for a new online writing course (Ace Your 10K Day!).
Quite a ways down the list was an inspirational article I was intending to write for my grad students over in the Fear of Writing Online Course. I’d given some thought to this article the day before and made mental plans for how I wanted to write it.
But my day so far had turned out to be all about journaling. Which was fine because I was digging down to some important stuff—some wisdom I needed to learn from inside of me.
The journaling was starting to give me brain-drain from writing so intensely, so I decided to take a break. I knew I needed to do something to refresh my brain cells, so I drank some water, took a shower and then carried a beach towel into the backyard. Even though I’m landlocked in Ohio, I pretended I was going to the beach to get a spring suntan.
As I walked outside I remember thinking, “I wish I was better at daydreaming. Instead of worrying or always planning ahead.”
I read a little from a good novel and then stretched out to soak up the sun. My mind did do its usual busywork for a few minutes . . . but the sun lulled me into a connection with nature and I gave myself up to it.
I started noticing all the noises reaching me on my imaginary beach: the birds singing and the dogs barking, the lawnmower in the distance and the hammering and power tools on a home renovation project a few doors down. The usual sounds that combine to form the “neighborhood noise” (usually kept on the edge of my awareness) disassembled into distinct units of sounds.
I’m not a birder so I usually can’t identify which bird is singing, but I started noticing the different kinds of birdsong. This became a lazy game and I was eager to pick out as many as I could. But eager in a relaxed sort of way. Much like watching drifting clouds to pick out the animal shapes.
Suddenly the game of birdsong was forgotten. I realized I was mind-writing the opening lines for the article for my grad students. And it wasn’t how I’d planned it the day before. It was better.
I raced into the house and started writing. 1,070 words later I hardly knew what hit me. It just flowed out of me with barely a beat of hesitation.
I realized I’d been daydreaming. All the yada-yada-yada went away while I focused softly on listening to the sounds in my environment. And that’s how my subconscious mind got an opportunity to write something that must have been simmering just below the surface.
Listening to the sounds in my environment to invoke daydreaming. Yeah, I can do that.
I love it when a good writing secret is so simple and doable.
SPECIAL THANKS TO Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) for coining the term “mind-writing” in her guest post at Fear of Writing (Facing My Fear of Writing Through Pain) and then for letting me steal it for this one. Thanks, Annie! :~)
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of Unleash Your Writing! and the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers at Writer’s Muse.