Trust and the Messy Mind

Thanks to my fellow Muse Lia, I have discovered author David Almond’s (SKELLIG) wonderful youtube videos. My favorite so far, is "Messy Mind"

Mr. Almond talks about our notion of what should be going on inside our heads when we write. We expect order and organization and are dismayed when we realize that anything but order is taking hold. Thoughts come and go. Bits and pieces of an opening line appear front and center and then recede into the background before we can capture them. A character appears, introduces herself and then suddenly it’s impossible to hear her because someone else starts talking at the same time.

I keep notebooks that are a testament to this sort of thing. I try to write down the stories and fragments  my mind comes up with. My handwriting starts out neat and uniform then half-way down the page it turns into great big globs of smeared ink and scribbles. There are abbreviations that make no sense and are probably shorthand for “Pick up milk on way home.”  There are doodles in the margins worthy of a first grader.  I have been known to re-write my notes because looking at my original attempts to capture ideas causes me distress.

I’m distressed because I do think my writing process should not be so chaotic.  I believe that my mind should slow down and produce beautiful, complete ideas in complete sentences. But as Mr. Almond so wisely shares - that is rarely the case. Listening to him helped me to understand just how messy and how fragile our stories are as we birth them. And that it’s perfectly ok. He’s given me a kind of virtual permission slip to be a silent scribe to the craziness in my head.  To trust that at some point, I will recognize a story.

This is counterintuitive for me. But I am trying to accept the process. If you haven’t seen David Almond’s videos, treat yourself to a few. And, I‘d love to hear if you’ve tamed your messy mind or have decided to go with it on its mysterious, frustrating and wonderful journey.


Hahaha, "pick up milk on the way home"--sounds like my notebooks! I call one the BIN, the "Big Idea Notebook" and try to keep my writing-related musings to that one (well, I'm on #2 now), and use my diary for more general angst, but ideas and angst seep from one notebook to the other. So I haven't tamed much, and it's great to know this is perfectly normal. Or perfect and normal, messy as it is. :)

I have not listened to his videos yet, but definitely sounds like something I need to do! Thanks for sharing this, Robin.

I'm glad I have a fellow Notebook-er in life! LOL

I think you'll like them, Donna.

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