My brain loves working on overdrive. Unfortunately, a lot of what I think about is junk. I am constantly struggling to break free from my mental clutter.
To make matters worse, I get so drained out from organising my thoughts that it often leaves very little room in the day to do some actual writing. As sad as this sound, I tend to think more than I act.
I’ve always wondered how other writers do it. How do they stay up so late working on their laptops or notepads, writing out their masterpieces?
The turning point
I tried it out recently and it was tiring. I wrote a fictional story that had been in my mind since I woke up that one morning. I usually don’t do this. I usually brush aside my imagination and concentrate on client work or things that have deadlines.
One of the reasons I decided to break free and write fiction anyway was thanks to the writer’s season I attended here in Brunei. Not only did I attend, I also spoke – FOR THE FIRST TIME. Talk about unlocking achievements. I had vowed to myself late last year that I would address this fear of public speaking. I didn’t do a fantastic job, but the handful of people who turned up gave me positive feedback. It was a good start.
During the session, I listened to three other writers tell their stories. I listened to how their writing journey started and carries on. I noticed how the key to getting things published is to “JUST WRITE”.
One of the speakers at the event was also an author of multiple books. He spoke about how he aspires to convert all his ideas and all the stories people share with him into short stories or e-books. He was on a roll; having written so many books already, and he wasn’t about to stop.
After the event, my mind started working on overdrive again. Here I was, not doing much with my writing career. I should be more like that writer. It’s not like I couldn’t do it or didn’t have the resources to do it. But the technicalities of getting things done started cluttering my mind yet again. Back to square one.
Just as I was about to sleep that night, my phone buzzed. It was a message from a gentleman I was speaking to at the time. We started telling each other stories about our lives, and he gave me some advice on how to solve my issues from a more matured, experienced perspective.
The conversation went on for a while. I finally knocked out a few hours later.
And then it happened…
In the morning when I woke up, the story unraveled itself in my mind. I thought of the story based on everything that happened the day before. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Again, thinking it was mental clutter.
I went on with my day.
After lunch, I sat in front of the laptop. I wanted to get some work done.
Lo and behold. Three hours later, I had 5,000 words. It had nothing to do with the initial task I wanted to finish. It was the story idea from that morning. Just like that.
I felt tired after all that writing. If I had to do that every day, I probably have to eat much more and sleep even more. Too much brain juice, too little energy.
Turning garbage into gold
I also realised something else amidst experience that rush of words that flowed from my brain to the page. It hit me that sometimes what I think is clutter – my nonsense imagination – can turn into great stories if I just exercised a little bit of creativity. I was always worried that what I thought was mental clutter was a waste of energy. Now I know that it’s actually just hard work to get what you want done – and sorting out the clutter to turn garbage into gold is not easy.
I’m just going to have to re-organise my thoughts; some experiences may seem trivial but to a writer who doesn’t get out much, I have to make use of whatever it is I can get my hands on. No more throwing away everything. I have to make everything work and come full circle for me.