Mental wandering, for many of us, is not a good thing. Okay, mental wandering is not a good thing for any of us … at certain time. There are times when our minds are needed, front and centre, on the job. And these times seem to be when my mind is most wanting to wander.
Part of my job, as a writer, is to come up with ideas, concepts, situations and scenarios to write about. And quite clearly, a wandering mind is the kind of mind that will find these things.
But will it come home with those things and put them down on paper? Or will it wander until it is tired and come home, having admired many possibilities, but also having forgotten to make note of them, leaving me as bereft of inspiration as I was at the beginning of the trip? Likely the later.
What to do?
I have taken up the habit of carrying a digital recorder in my back pack, and a pen and note pad in my pocket.
The digital recorder is a handy thing for interviews and meetings. It takes notes that are perfect, where as I take notes that are illegible and intermittent at best.
But since the digital recorder is in my backpack, the pen and notepad in my pocket are also often pressed into service. And I have gotten into the habit of making bullet point notes about things in that note pad.
Obviously there is still a problem …
That’s right, there is a problem. I have to be motivated to turn on the recorder, if it is handy, or jot down the points. And the motivation is, sadly, in reverse proportion to the importance of the note needed.
If the inspiration, idea, or item needing to be made note of is huge in character, something that has really wowed me, I’m less likely to think I need to make a notation of it.
In fact I’m more likely to think that I have discovered something so revolutionary, earth shattering and landscape changing that I won’t be able to avoid it, and less likely to think that I should make a note of it … just in case. Have I discovered something that great? I don’t know. I can’t remember.
I have had the impression that I have discovered something akin in import to cold fusion, on more than one occasion, only to be distracted by a buzzing bee of flitting butterfly in the next moment. On returning my attention to that thing that I was thinking, I’ll discover that it has been carried off on the back of that transient insect, leaving me behind in the spent flowers of thought without import.
And the note pad in my pocket?
A quick leaf through the notepad from my pocket reveals that I have written down some things, but in the cool light of reality, they are often little more than reminders to bring home milk and renew my drivers license.
Certainly there are some good ideas that have made it into blog posts and magazine articles, poems and lyrics … but that one note with the heading “Cold Fusion?” That one is still alluding me, I’m afraid.