Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Insecure Writer and a Lack of Quality Mind Wandering Time

Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of the worry that my source of ideas may be running out..

The past several months have been pretty busy, especially October, which is my excuse for not having posted here the last couple of weeks. I suspect laziness played some part too, but that’s another story. And the little time I had left was spent critting. This lack of time didn’t bother me too much. I knew as soon as things lightened up and I had a chance to sit down in front of a computer again, I’d jump back into posting and critting and writing again as if I’d never been away.

What really worried me was my lack of quality time for generating new ideas. Turns out my best ideas come to me when I’m in the shower, or driving to and from work, or taking walks by myself—basically the times when my mind can free-associate. It’s the part of writing I’ve always enjoyed the most. Just allowing my mind to wander and letting those ideas come pouring in. Getting them down on paper is the hard part.

But as I’ve learned these past couple of months, these ideas only come when my mind can wander around guilt-free. If there’s something else I know I should be thinking about, like the next day’s lecture for the chemistry class I teach, or the homework I should be grading, or the next meeting of robotics class I’m coaching, or projects I should be doing at home—the ideas just don’t come. When I know there are other things I should be thinking about, concentrating on my story is hard. And it had been such a long time since I’d had any new good ideas, I worried that maybe the ideas weren’t going to come anymore.

Fortunately, I've discovered this will not be a problem. My plate is still pretty full, but I’ve been able to work up a schedule that allows me to fulfill all my obligations and still leaves me with a few hours of guilt-free mind wandering time. And the ideas are beginning to return. Thank goodness!

 Finally, an Insecure Writer’s post that ends on a happy note.


  1. I'm sure the source of all your ideas will return full-fold. I have been in your place and there are times when I'm so out of ideas I wonder why I ever thought I could do this in the first place.

    If you have the time, please drop by my blog:

    Thank you and Keep Writing!

  2. Another good source of ideas for me is the mindless time when I'm doing my workout. It's just me and the stairmaster, so I put on some epic music and imagine the movie trailer that would go with it.

    And don't worry, even Brandon Sanderson says that writers cannot tell when you're inspired vs when you're grinding away like a telescope maker.

  3. Maybe it's the rebellious kid in me, but when I'm supposed to be doing other things is often when my muse decides to strike. LOL Glad things are getting better for you. ;)

  4. I'm glad your ideas are returning! It's so important to give ourselves permission to do nothing, so that we can recharge and come up with fresh stuff!

  5. I know how you feel. Thought I'd run out of ideas and nothing was inspiring me. But give them a chance and ideas do return!

  6. Showers can be so incredibly productive... and long drives. I understand though, I'm afraid I won't come up with anything earth shattering enough to continue Backworlds past book 8 or 9. I'm really hoping some inspirational idea hits before I finish book 7. I'm on 5 right now, so I guess I have a little time. Sounds like you need to go have some coffee with some creative people. Although, I get a lot of ideas from listening to my astronomy friends talk... and TV.

  7. I'm glad your ideas are coming back. My brain is too burned out from trying to find things like shampoo and toilet paper. I really want to find my muffin tins so I make banana chocolate chip muffins. You'll have to remind me what the chapter I sent you last was about. I'm that clueless.

    On the plus side, I've managed to read a book since we moved, and I really loved the author's creative ideas. So if I can't have my own, I can at least appreciate others.

  8. I'm in need of some serious "quality mind wandering time..."
    I need to get stuck into a good book... reading something of good quality always stirs the creative juices...
    ...of course, there's always the option of listening to some instrumental music that works just as well...
    Writer In Transit