Tag Archives: mind wandering

#FlashFictionFriday: Mind Wandering (short essay)

I love this image. I found it at Wikimedia Commons and fell in love with the symmetry and the way the colors complement each other, so opposite and yet so pleasing. It inspires my creativity, pushes away the subconscious boundaries we set for ourselves in our daily lives. It makes me wonder what lies beyond the borders. What mysterious thing could be waiting there for me to discover?

When people first learn I am an author with no day job, the first thing they ask (after what the heck are you thinking) is where I get ideas for my tales.  I usually give them some song-and-dance about adapting modern relationships and values to mythological world situations, and while it’s true, it’s not the whole truth.

The truth is, these things just pop into my head, and I think “Wow – that would be a good story.”  I will be riding in the car listening to music, not thinking about anything in particular, and have a flash of brilliance – What if the dark ages never happened? Or How would Europe look if the Druids had conquered Europe instead of the Romans?

If I am smart, I will write the idea down, because I’m 64 years old and the old harddrive is full—too many cute kitty pictures and Weird Al videos, with no room for anything else.

The flow of random thoughts really is the river of creativity for me. Having the time to just sit and daydream is as rare as the March sun around here, but it does happen, and that is when my ideas come to me.  Letting your mind roam free and allowing the possibilities to enter your stream of consciousness (or not, as they will) is good for you.  Fifteen or twenty minutes a day of simply watching the world go by will rejuvenate you.

Some people will say, “I don’t have time to waste daydreaming,” and that’s all right for them. I personally need to throw open the windows of my mind and let the breezes clear away the musty ideas which get in the way of my creativity. For me, the path to writer’s block is paved with “I don’t have time to relax!”

Don’t get me wrong, I get up at 6:30 am and immediately begin blogging. After noon I read for several hours and then I do revisions or work on my current Work In Progress. I read before I go to sleep.  I do two weekly book review blogs besides this blog and all in all I work 10 to 16 hours a day at this job, but it is interspersed with various household tasks and errands.  I also take the time to let my mind rest, simply watching the town go by from my porch.

Some people call it meditation, and some people call it a waste of time. I call it necessary.  I think of my mind as if it were an ‘idea farm.’ Just as a wise farmer allows his fields to occasionally lie fallow, it’s important to let your mind rest. Letting farmlands lie fallow is one of the best ways of allowing the land to replenish its nutrients, and regain its fertility. Letting your mind roam with no particular direction is essential in lowering your stress levels (!) which immediately improves your health and your thought processes.

So I suppose when I am asked where I get ideas for my tales I should tell them the truth:

I don’t really know!


Credits and Attributes

Bruges, View from Rozenhoedkaai, blue hour. By Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Bruegge View from Rozenhoedkaai.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bruegge_View_from_Rozenhoedkaai.jpg&oldid=198969137 (accessed July 28, 2017). Photo: Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

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#amwriting: mind wandering

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Sea Stacks at Tillamook Head © 2016 Connie J. Jasperson

We have long known that creative people are often guilty of daydreaming, but researchers have shown that daydreaming makes you more creative. Right now I am on vacation, and my output of writing has been sporadic–it comes in bursts. Here by the sea I find myself thinking about…nothing.

Sometimes I realize I’ve been gazing at the scenery with no conscious awareness of thought for long stretches of time. This means my mind is completely at rest. With this relaxing of conscious thought, I become rested, and my mind is cleared of the white-noise that hinders my creative process.

Eugenio M. Rothe, a psychiatrist at Florida International University, says:  “Many times the ‘dialogue’ that occurs when the daydreaming mind cycles through different parts of the brain accesses information that was dormant or out of reach. Likewise, the daydreaming mind may make an association between bits of information that the person had never considered in that particular way.”

Intriguingly, the physiology of the brain itself, and not the “mind” controls our daydreams. Anthony Jack, a cognitive scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio says,

“How we daydream and think depends on the brain’s structure. …(That) structure is constantly changing in small ways—as we learn new things the connections between nerve cells change.” (Read “Beyond the Brain” in National Geographic magazine.)

I usually work 10-16 hour days. I don’t do it intentionally, but it happens. Thus, taking a complete break away from my desk is critical. At home, I might go out to my back porch and observe the neighborhood. It’s peaceful out there, but here, where Ecola Creek meets the Pacific Ocean, I am away from my usual tasks. I have no schedule, and my editing work is on hold. I am writing this post via the stream-of-conscious method rather than preparing it ahead on Sunday as I usually do.

My mind has been defragging this week. I can feel my spirit growing lighter, less concerned about the small annoyances. I don’t need sunshine to free my subconscious thoughts–I just need the sea.

My husband is relaxing too. He has only called his office once, and on finding the small problem there was easily settled, he is relaxing and enjoying the peace of the moment.

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Sea Stacks in the Mist at Tillmook Head © Connie J. Jasperson 2016

The ocean right now at 5:57 am is shrouded in fog. The sea stacks are islands in the mist. For an hour or so more, the gulls and other sea birds will own the beach, and they are making the most of their time.

Soon early risers like me will be up, some letting the dogs go for a run, others just wandering the shore, thinking about nothing in particular.

Today we will go down to Haystack Rock with a picnic lunch and if the wind is right we’ll fly the kite. That is all the plans we have for the day. I may write when I get back, or I may continue reading. Whichever I do, it will be interspersed with long moments of staring out at those amazing rock formations where Ecola meets the sea.

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