The Cluttered Mind and Life of a Writer

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Over the years, I've often wished I could rid myself of the clutter that fills my mind. I could use that new found space to help focus on one thing instead of one hundred. If I could direct all of that clutter and focus it on one item, I'd accomplish a lot more.

Perhaps I could learn to perform basic maintenance on my own car. Maybe I could build a wine cellar. I could finally repair the flat tire on my bicycle. Most importantly, I could find the focus to finish one play or one story before jumping into the next one.

Stories have been started, stopped, and recaptured over the years. Ten pages turn into twenty, then forward momentum comes to a screeching halt. I'm off to another project, leaving behind a manuscript to collect dust for months on end.

Years of notebooks have been filled with ideas, lines of conversation and Venn diagrams. Many sit idle as they line the bookshelves in my apartment. Boxes I haven't looked through in years hold ideas and stories that are just waiting to be completed.

I hold onto these things dearly. I'll never know when that story I started when I was 20-years old will be used now that I'm 37. Valuable life experience learned during the in-between time will no doubt serve a new insight into the stories of the past.

Sometimes, with all of that clutter, it's a good idea to sit back and, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X. Man, those "Discount Double Check" commercials were hilarious.  Well, they used to be. Rodgers sure struggled at times this year. Maybe he should have spent more time practicing football than canoodling with Olivia Munn.

See what I mean. Clutter. Physical clutter and clutter of the mind are not a good mix.

A writer should have the tools of history, pop culture, culture in general, and human experience at his or her disposal. At least that's what I've been told. While these things are easily accessible via the internet, I find that much of what I pull from in my writing is harbored within my brain.

Yes, drawing off personal experience is a must when creating plays, novels, fiction, poetry, etc. How much of it is meant to be retained, though? Can memories be erased? I think about experiences, remember people's experiences, and can't seem to forget them. It probably doesn't help that many of them get incorporated into stories and when re-read, trigger those very memories.

In addition, my mind is a mixture of song lyrics, dialogue from movies, and plots to television episodes. Pop culture events litter the vast recesses of my mind. For what? To advance my knowledge of the world? For this, I do not know.

I'd like to rid my mind of clutter. I'd like to rid myself of some of these notebooks. The notebooks have taken a hit over the years, but it has been pieces of paper that have been trashed, not entire collections. There is still more valuable there to me that could be useful one day.

I will deal with this cluttered mind. Narrowing down projects to three to four at a time instead of six to seven will certainly help. This has allowed a focus to return on finishing a project before starting it and let it disappear for years. Organizing the binders, notebooks, drafts, and pieces of scrap paper have helped over the last year to make my life clutter free. The memories and experiences of my mind will remain, for they are part of the base of a story. At least I've realized that.

Now, about those pesky re-writes...