Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dead in Their Tracks

One thing I've noticed about being very busy is that fatigue tends to dissuade one from writing. It's not that there isn't enough time to write when you're busy as the process of writing, at least for me, doesn't require all that much time. The main problem is that there is no time to think things through and then feel compelled to write about your thoughts.

While I can't speak for other writers, I can say that I generally have experiences and then roll them around in my mind for a bit. This almost always happens without any conscious effort or application of energy on my part. Usually, things drift through my mind when I'm going on a leisurely shopping trip to the grocery store, casually cleaning up around the apartment for an extended time, cooking, or taking a shower. If I have to hustle through any (or all) of these activities because my plate is full with extra work, experiences tend to just stud their way through time like the head of nails pounded flat in a board. You pass by them and have no desire to pull them out and see if there's anything going on below the surface because you need to move on to the next thing.

When this happens, everything that I think about writing about just seems uninteresting (to me) and worthless to write about. Even though I've had some interesting experiences this past week, I can't really think of much to say beyond, "here is what happened to me this week..." I decided that I generally want to avoid those kinds of posts though I certainly find nothing wrong with them in the hands of other writers.

So, my thoughts have been lying around inert while I recover from about 20 hours of extra work this week. The worst part isn't really that my thoughts are temporarily stopped dead in their tracks but that the impulse to roll them around again has lost all momentum and I've got to push to get things rolling again.

This illustrates something I've been aware of for quite some time but didn't really consider in this capacity before. That is, that our brains prefer to travel down the roads most traveled mentally and are reluctant to alter course or take new paths. If you stray from a mental path long enough, it's like a frequently-used path that starts to fall into disrepair as time goes by. Grass grows over it and it becomes fainter and harder to see. Weeds pop up and, if enough time passes, you forget the path was there at all. The length of time you have spent traveling that path determines how quickly it grows over and I guess I just haven't been blogging long enough for the mental grooves to be well-worn.

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