The Art of Thinking

Every morning it’s the same dream: I want to wake up, lay in bed till I start to fidget, put on the coffee, shower till there isn’t a drop of hot water left in the state, then curl up with scrivener and a warm cup of coffee to start my day.

The reality: Five-thirty in the morning the baby starts screaming. I usually try to drag him into bed with me so I can lay there a little longer, but he starts to jump, yank on the blinds, or use me as a jungle gym. So I drag myself out of bed, stumbled to the kitchen, where he proceeds to continue whining/screaming till I shove juice in his hands to shut him up. Then the other door opens, and out comes the four year old rubbing her eyes, whining about all things wrong with the universe, and curls up on the couch to glare at the fish and whine about life. Then the dogs start… and the teenager…

By the time I put the coffee on in the morning, it’s usually near or after eight and my head is pounding. This is how I start most of my days.

As a writer, those quiet moments to block out the world and think are so necessary. It gives us time to kick out the clutter of our thoughts and focus on a project with no distractions. What’s missing from the story? Are the stakes dire enough to warrant the character’s reaction? Is the love story growing organically? Is the threat real enough?

There are dozens of questions constantly running through my mind, and often I don’t get enough time to sit and think through the problem to find a valuable solution. However, I’ve discovered a few tricks that really seem to help:

1. Shower. Steamy water, white noise, and a locked door can be the sweetest deal. It helps block out the world, open the senses, and relax the body. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had what I call the shower epiphany.

2. Music. When I write, music is always playing. In fact, I’m on Pandora and I have stations named after my books. *Neeeeerd* Whatever project I’m working on, I click that station and let the music distract the clutter in my brain so I can focus on the work.

3. Naptime. If you have small children, you know this one doesn’t always work. But, when the kids are down, I’ll often lay down for thirty minutes, put some music on, and just think. Once I do that, I find my focus and I can start plowing through those words.

4. Treadmill. Again, with kids this is hit and miss. But even taking 15-30 minutes to walk on the treadmill helps immensely. I close my eyes, get a nice sweat going, and hope I don’t crash into the wall. Not really, just seeing if you’re still awake.

The truth is, we all need time to think, and not just writers. There’s something beautiful about locking out the rest of the world, pilfering through your own thoughts, and feeling re-energized and organized to take on the world again.

Cheers and happy writing! 🙂