Your Writer’s Mind

writer mind

dummy soundcloud writers mind

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)

78 thoughts on “Your Writer’s Mind

  1. Just wonderful, and so true 🙂 Although it’s sometimes hard that nobody seems to understand this kind of mind, I wouldn’t trace it for anything! Thank you this piece of truth and statement of love for our crazy vocation 😉

  2. Superbly Sweet! I couldn’t agree more! I was struck at the very core LOL! Especially, the writer’s mind is WILY! haha! Deadline is sacred, I have three articles due tomorrow and I loved being distracted! haha!

    Wonder Wordsmith! Kudos to your two cents! This made me appreciate my creative craft and queer attributes more as a writer!

    Would you mind if I reblog this? 😀

      • Gaiety and gratitude for the wish granted! 😀 I’ve been excited since I’ve read this. I related to some of my fellow wordsmiths and they’re excited too!

        I couldn’t agree more! Indeed a good bunch! I also love your wit! More power to your writing prowess! 😀

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  4. This IS great, I usually can’t stand how people (including myself) write about writing.
    I try to just write unedited too, because when I do finally stop with the procrastination (constant), I’m also likely to edit it all away because its just not good enough.

    No, I’d never trade it.

    • Unedited is a great place to start … and often a great place to finish, too.

      Thanks for taking the time to share.

  5. Reblogged this on Curly Bookworm and commented:
    “Deadline is sacred” keeps popping in my head as I hear the wall clock’s hands ticking. It’s not a good scenario to get distracted while squeezing my head to finish the three articles due within few hours.
    But the harder I tried to get focused, the stronger the temptation for the mind to wander, instead of wondering more of what to include in the article. It isn’t new after all.
    Then is the midst of my wandering, I bumped with one of my favorite blogs that I follow. BOOM! I was struck to the very core! BULLS EYE!
    “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.”

    Well, I did my best, but I guess, it isn’t good enough.
    Suddenly Jamie is a Wonder Wordsmith with a witty delight. Her writing prowess attest that “we are an odd bunch, but a good bunch!” (reply to my comment). Much gaiety and gratitude for this article! 😀

      • I would like your opinion if you could. Do you think that many writers are also introverts? What you described sounds to me pretty much like introversion. And I’m not saying that in a negative way. How would you describe yourself? Extrovert or introvert? Thanks for the input.

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  7. gosh, I hadn’t realised we were all of those things. I guess writers aren’t like aliens, they are aliens. 🙂 I always look forward to reading what you have to say, Jamie.

    • Thanks, for being here, Mary.
      I guess we ARE aliens, after a fashion. And it’s a little ironic that it takes our musings to help humans better understand themselves.

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  9. “The writer’s mind is a working mind. It rarely sleeps.” Amen sister!! It’s so nice to be reminded we’re not crazy. Or at least we’re not alone in our craziness. Beautifully written, Jamie.

  10. Oh wow this was great. I am not crazy. You described me as if you were in my head. I am a writer and a book cover designer and my ideas come to me when I am asleep and I try to write them down as soon as I wake up. I am going to re-blog this if it’s OK. Great post.

    • That’s probably one of the highest compliments you can give a writer, “as if you were in my head.” 🙂 Thanks.

      And thank you for sharing via the reblog!!

      Have a great weekend.

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  12. “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.”

    SPOT.ON. 🙂

    • Thank you – for the lovely comment and that hysterical visual. I wonder what the attending doctor would say… 😉

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  14. I knew you that this would be good when when you said, “Writers are like aliens.”

    Hi, I’m Robin. I blog about the art of lion dancing and how it can be found in your everyday life. You can visit me at Liondrake (

    A few months ago, I blogged about Lion Dance Kog’Maw, an alien-like character in the popular RPG League of Legends:

    If this isn’t proof that the writer’s mind wanders and makes weird connections, then I don’t know what IS.

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  16. I have always wondered if anybody had the same mind as me; one that is both engrossed in the judgements of myself in reality, but also in the magical side of my own world. When I found this article, I couldn’t help but laugh at the authenticity of those statements. It is triumphantly true that we always seem a bit distracted and eccentric. Being 16 and in high school, I find this trait to be a hassle at times when I’m trying to learn or, say, maintain a social life; however it creates art when isolation puts pen to paper. I did not disagree with any of these interpretations of our minds. This was a very good read. Thank you.

    • So glad this resonated with you, Vinnie. It’s always good to know we’re not alone … even in our crazy. 😉
      Here’s to art and making more of it!

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