Friday, 13 February 2009

Thinking time

The best thing about commuting was the way my mind wandered as my body was stuck on the Victoria line. Most of my story ideas (or any written work orientated ideas) have been dreamt up staring at the racing black outside the tube windows, or watching suburbia flicker past outside the train. Generally any place where I am physically stuck seems to free my imagination.

I try to recreate this feeling by going for solitary long walks. This also works, as there is nothing else to do but think, and eventually my mind will settle on the latest plot hole and poke it while my body plods past front gardens.

I noticed recently that it is taking longer for me to start thinking of my story. My brain seems to spend a good forty minutes beating me up first. It will silently tell me I am so un-fit, what a loser, oh-my-God-what-are-you-wearing, and wasn’t-it-embarrassing-that-day-in-1992-when-you-fell-over. It delights in reminding me of cringe-worthy incidents as no matter how long ago they were, they are always within reach in my mind. It is like having a constantly berating old Aunt with a moustache wagging her finger at you in disdain. What a disappointment you are, what an embarrassment! They all think it, everyone thinks you are a failure, don’t you realise that yet? Well, you never were the smartest of people… and so on, and ever on.

Most of the time I just hear this inner voice and not really register it. It will just be the background to my walk; my thoughts nearly always idle in nasty self-abusive circles. After around forty minutes I usually notice that I have been running myself down from the moment I stepped from the front door, and once I consciously notice what I have been thinking then I will force my thoughts into a different, happier direction. But it is something I have to a) notice, and then b) channel into something positive. It’s like my underlying motor revels in negativity, and indeed, relaxes to criticism. Thinking positively almost goes against the grain – I have to be aware of it, which isn’t generally how people think.

I dare say this is where I am going wrong. I tend to think you get what you expect in this life, and if ultimately underneath it all you think its not going to happen, then it probably never will. The trouble is - how to change that? It’s sort of the way I am wired. I can obviously exchange a positive thought for a negative one (i.e. – you are so un-fit, which is why you are on a 3 mile walk – good for you!), but it’s being aware of the negativity in the first place.

Maybe it’s a gradual thing to change. The more successes, the more evidence there is to slap in front of that old Aunt with the moustache. She’d have to shut up then (grudgingly at first I suspect), but in the end I hope with a good grace.


Aspiring Writer said...

This is a good post Jayne. I can relate to the self-criticism. And it's great that you're aware of this. Give yourself a hug too.

Jayne said...

Aw, thank you! I guess it is good to notice it - I have tried this weekend to stem off negative thoughts and replace them instead with positive ones - quite hard going though! But I do feel better for it.