Writers are like aliens. We explore and dissect, question and document. We study the ways of the human heart and soul with a probing and unflinching eye. The writer’s mind is a many-faceted marvel that defies logic in order to create magic, all within the constraints of twenty-six letters and a few punctuation marks.
The writer’s mind is prone to wandering. Writers do not live life the same way non-writers do. We are more of the world and yet always slightly apart from it. We exist simultaneously in multiple worlds – the “Real World,” the world as we see it, and worlds of our own devising. It’s no wonder then, what with our minds being in two or more places at once, that we sometimes appear distracted or a bit dotty.
The writer’s mind is full of wonder. We are endlessly curious about everything and everyone. We are avid people watchers, stealing bits of dialog, mannerisms, and expressions. We collect the world piece by piece, tucking places, objects, and ideas away in the labyrinthine corridors of our brains. Most of all, we ask, “What if?” We question the truth and ponder the possibilities. We expand the universe with our thoughts and our words.
The writer’s mind is a working mind. It rarely sleeps, and even in slumber continues its efforts through dreams. Our minds perform their amazing feats of creation while balanced on the line between craft and imagination, practice and inspiration. Half artist, half linguistic scientist, we filter the world and all our experiences through the context of story – sifting and separating the details so we can see how the puzzle pieces fit together.
The writer’s mind is full of worry. It circles again and again around the same fears and doubts like a hunger-lean tiger, pacing and pacing, wearing a track in the floor. Will I ever have another idea? Will anyone understand? Will anyone care? Am I good enough? We chew relentlessly on our anxieties and insecurities even though we know they offer no sustenance. The foreboding never goes away, no matter the scope or height of our success.
The writer’s mind is wily. When we don’t feel up to the task of writing, our minds are happy to offer all manner of distractions and diversions. We are masters of procrastination, being able to justify almost any activity (or inactivity) as “research” or “part of the process.” Left to their own devices, our writers’ minds might very well weasel their way out of finishing anything.
But, at the end of the day, the writer’s mind is wonderful. It is the source of our inspiration and the tool of our craft. Sometimes partially insane and always partly magic, our minds are home and haven to the wonder of our hearts and the wanderings of our intellect. Our writers’ minds hum busily in the background even when we are performing the most mundane tasks – clearing the table, waiting in line at the bank, mowing the lawn. Though we perceive sudden moments of insight as epiphany, they are really just the hard won fruits of our minds’ ceaseless labors.
The writer’s mind may lead us down rabbit holes and into dark corners. It may confound us with questions that have no answers and deceive us with doubts. It may taunt and torture us in the predawn hours as we wrestle with questions of plot and character, story arc and structure. But I don’t know a single writer who would trade her curious, creative, renegade writer’s mind for anything in the world.
I know I wouldn’t.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Image Credit: Cover from Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer (affiliate link)