More Thinking, Less Writing?

Most writers agree that some of their greatest moments of inspiration come while they’re driving, or showering, or right before drifting off to sleep.

More Thinking, Less Writing

What do these three things have in common? The struggle of writing down these ideas at that particular moment is tantamount to rebuilding the eiffel tower with toothpicks.

I’ve often wondered about the oddity of this. Why does our inspiration come at such inconvenient times? Is it a cruel trick? The twisted humor of irony?

Clearly, this wasn’t the problem for the classic authors. Shakespear didn’t have a shower in which to be struck with inspirational lightning, let alone a car. I guess the edge-of-sleep dilemma still existed for him.

But let me point out something else these three locations and moments have in common: we are often doing nothing else other than thinking. You can’t multitask while you sleep, so your brain is fully committed to thinking. You shouldn’t multitask while you drive (but we all do), yet your brain is still committed to thinking and daydreaming more than average. As for the shower? Well, it’s instant recipe for thinking and relaxation…and cleanliness! What better place could exist for infusion of thought?

Here’s what I’m getting at: would we see this same result if we committed some of our “writing time” to thinking? Just laying on that couch by the fire with nothing but your own brain for company?

We’ve all heard the “slow down!” mantra in order to appreciate life. This isn’t one of those. As much as we’re told to slow down, in today’s culture that’s rarely realistic. What I’m saying, is that perhaps when we block out writing time we could also block out a little thinking time.

Maybe it won’t work. I don’t know. I haven’t tested it yet. But surely it’d be easier than scrambling to find paper and a pencil in the dark when your real desire is to drift off and catch those rare hours of sleep.

Recently, I’ve tried to find a recipe to let me slow down yet do the same amount of work. No, it’s not an oxymoron. Instead of driving somewhere, I’ll walk there with a notebook and pen. Instead of typing out scenes as they pop into my mind, I write them (yes, by hand, the old-school way) to make myself think through them slower.

And everything comes out just a smidge clearer.

Maybe it’s because of how my brain works and this wouldn’t apply to you, but it’s worth a try, don’t you think? The main point of this post is…how can we make sure we’re pushing our imaginations to the limits? How can we make sure we capture those brilliant ideas that might change the entire course of our writing?

We can’t afford to waste them.

We can’t afford to lose them.


Do you have any tricks for remembering ideas that come at inconvenient times?



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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Oh my goodness…I just wrote a blog post for next Monday related to what you’re saying, but different angle and purpose. ha! I will have to link to your post. 🙂

  2. Sadly, I call my smartphone my ‘brain’ these days. I have a spot in my notes for inspiration, names, scripture etc that come to me at weird moments.

    I have a feeling that if I decided to just lounge by the fire to think, I’d be thinking of all the things I should be doing and that wouldn’t include any writing epiphanies 🙁

    • Aww, hey, we have to improvise with what we have, right? Sometimes slowing down is more of a task than doing. 😉 You always have to find what works for you. For me, I think it’s stepping back and diving into the “old school” ways of things.

      As long as we’re capturing those profound thoughts one way or another, it’s a success. 🙂

  3. Great thought! I often have wondered about this! … and I use my Smartphone for impromptu notes as well. Just yesterday I was telling my husband that if anyone were to get hold of my phone and open the “notes” app, they would be very confused and possibly a bit disturbed by what they would find there! Haha 😉

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