I have a messy mind.
That should probably be completely obvious to absolutely anyone who’s ever read even one of my blog posts. I ramble, I go on tangents, typing anything that comes to mind as the words I choose make patterns in my brain. You’re lucky you’ve never been in a conversation with me because sometimes I’ll start saying something and then just go silent as my brain goes off on its own journey. At other times, I invoke my familial tendency to get so excited, I’ll run over you to say what I want to say. (A family conversation in my family is more gladiatorial sport than tea party pleasantries. I blame them for my rudeness.)
It helps me in certain ways. I can keep huge patterns in my head, tracking each thread as necessary. My friend The Scribble Bug can tell you all about it; we have a story we’ve been writing together for years and, even after a couple years of the story being on pause, I can still remember entire plot threads I began almost a decade ago. I write for upwards of ten characters and know where each one of them is going. For some of them, I even know where they’re going as people (character arc vs. plot arc), though Scribs up there can tell you that’s a weakness I’ve been trying to overcome for years. She knows better than anyone I like tossing characters into a world and then throwing wrench after wrench at them just to see what happens. And, on occasion, I sometimes forget that these events should be changing them because I’m on an inexorable march to follow my plot threads. The downside to my messy brain often focused more on patterns than people.
Another downside is how hard it makes focusing. Sometimes it feels like I’m at the whim of my own brain, forced to follow the patterns until new patterns form and I have to follow those. I guess it means what I lack is mental discipline. Because I can spend hours thinking. I can start reading at 10pm and not look up again until dawn, especially if the book is particularly enthralling. Most of the time, however, something in the author’s word choice or maybe a metaphor, an allusion… something will catch my eye and I’ll be staring at the page, my brain on its own journey.
It makes it hard to write, as you can imagine. A lot of the reason I’m such a plotter is because creating outlines, character bios, arcs, etc puts boundaries in place that keep my brain contained. That keep it useful and give me a path to follow through the madness. Without it, either nothing gets done or everything is an incoherent mess. As it is, my word counts are typically pathetic. I’m going to be one of those authors receiving hate mail because new books take years to come out. To be fair, I look forward to that because I’m a weirdo.
People ask me a lot why I find it so easy to write with a partner. This is why. Yes, I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy the ideas that flow. Sometimes my patterns walk me into corners and another person can get me out of them. But mostly, I write with partners because partners focus me. I can’t let them down. I can’t be the reason the story stops. So it gives me the impetus I need to shut my brain down long enough to write.
I don’t know what the point of this was. Maybe I just needed to say it. Maybe I’m having problems right now focusing on a project because the one I’m actually writing needs more planning (it went off-the-rails enough I wrote a whole blog on whether I should turn it into a script; another thank you due to The Scribble Bug for pointing some things out to me), another needs more plotting, and a couple are so far out of my wheelhouse I need to research HOW to write them before I can even begin to work on them. Maybe all I want is a story I can just write instead of something I have to plan. Something so simple it can’t go anywhere even if my brain goes on tangents.
Maybe I’m just bored and my brain just wants to go down another of its paths. It’s a bit of an asshole like that.
Though I do just want to be writing something. And none of my projects is ready for me to do that.