What to Do When your Mind Won’t Shut Up

A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s

Image via Wikipedia

I decided to write this post because this is an issue that I deal with sometimes, and it can get in the way of my writing, and whatever project I am working on at the moment.  Sometimes, my mind won’t shut up.  By that I mean that there is a constant overflow of ideas and images, phrases, possible projects, music … and much more that bombards me all at once throughout the day.  When this happens, it is hard to tackle something for long.  It has nothing to do with focus or concentration, I have no problem in that area.  I am blessed in the sense that I can block anything around me and work on something.   Sometimes, too much focus, for example, one day I was working on several freelance articles for a client and while sitting at my desk, I noticed a shadow blocking the window light.  I glanced and I saw a firefighter woman looking at me through the window glass.  Behind her, in my backyard, there were many firefighters, about four of them, running around.  I figured that something was wrong.  I went outside and asked the woman what was going on.  She said if i didn’t smell the smoke.  I said, now I do.  A neighbor decided to burn some brush and someone complained thinking it was a fire, and the firemen followed the smoke to my backyard but it was coming from my back neighbor’s backyard, not mine.  She asked me if I didn’t hear them knocking and I said no.  When I went to the front of my house, there was a fire truck parked on the front and other firemen walking in my front yard.

On another occasion, I had been working on some freelance stuff all day and my husband came home from work, around 5pm.  He came into the room and seemed alarmed.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, don’t you hear all that?  Then he told me to come outside.  I live in a very quiet neighborhood and people are very nice; it is usually very quiet during the day, so my husband was concerned that the street in the back or our home was blocked by police, there were many reporters, news vans, police cars, and even a few helicopters hovering on top of our home.  A neighbor told us that a woman had been murdered in her home, she was actually burned in her bedroom, a very sad incident for this neighborhood.  This commotion had happened since early in the morning and I never even heard a thing.  The street is right behind my house.  These are two examples of how I can get wrapped in what I am doing and not hear anything.

However, I can hear my mind and when it doesn’ t want to shut up, I have a trick that seems to work.  I just empty it.  I know, I probably sound nuts, but it works.  I take a piece of paper and start writing everything that comes to mind, just jotting a few words, not sentences, quite fast, whether an image, a word, and idea for a project, a scene, a title, anything at all gets written, until I stop.  Then I can go back to what I was doing and work happily.  The ideas may serve for something later on, or not.  This trick works for me.  You may want to try it, if you find yourself wrestling with your mind on occasion.