Saturday, January 21, 2012

Multitasking and Story Ideas

Multitasking is hard for me.  I didn’t always know this about myself but as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent.  I don’t know how people do it.  I wish I could.  I’m writing this blog post about multitasking from a writer’s point of view.  A lot of writers have ideas come to them when they are doing something else.  They might be walking down a street and an idea comes to them.  They think through plot lines while exercising.  The only thing I can think of while exercising is how many more minutes do I have left? 

When I’m working my day job, I don’t think about writing or stories.  I think about work.  I want to think about my plot or my characters but I can’t do it.  I’ve tried.  An example would be the work I did yesterday.  I was gathering data between two flow meters and so I was sitting on a ladder, glancing back and forth between two display screens and writing numbers.  For hours.  You would think my mind would have lots of opportunity to wander and think about other things.  But oh, no, not me.  My thoughts were constantly evaluating the numbers, wondering why there was fluctuation, whether or not it was statistically significant, was I doing a good job and getting the best data possible?  My thoughts are constantly focused on my work projects and my next steps and what needs to be done when I’m at work.

And home is really no different.  When I start the washing machine, you would think I could daydream then, but it’s not to be.  My mind immediately focuses on whether or not I filled the detergent to the correct level, how to pour the softener without spilling it all over, choosing the right settings.  It’s never done on rote.  I think about it every time.  Washing dishes doesn’t give me a chance either.  I just think about making sure everything is clean.  I think about how warm the water is and how soapy.  When I try to think about a story or developing an idea, it’s just a blank.

Now that I’ve finally realized that I’m not the kind of person who ideas are just going to pop in my head and flesh themselves out while I’m doing the menial things we do in our normal lives, I have decided that if I require single focus time to do things, I need to discipline myself to sit and think of story ideas.

I need to learn to sit quietly and let my mind wander.  This is so difficult.  I’m not sure I know how to unfocus and just let the ideas come.  I know they are there but they seem so hard to grasp.

Do you have any trouble thinking about story ideas?  How do they come to you?  Do you have any advice for letting my creative side free?