Thursday, May 14, 2015

Regarding mind space--and a partial farewell

Like Angelica and a few other Operation Awesome operatives, I will be posting on more of a limited basis. But I'll still be in the Operation Awesome Twitterverse, so feel free to find me at @OpAwesome6

And now, to today's post:

Mind space. The final frontier.

Cue Star Trek theme.

I've attended workshops where writers talk about mind space in relation to creativity. But what exactly is mind space, and how can writers capitalize on it?

Step 1: Admit there's muck to clean

For starters, ask yourself:

a) What gets in the way throughout your day?

b) What's occupying your brain region normally reserved for creative endeavors?

For me, it was something very palpable.

A childhood friend of mine recently passed away from breast cancer. And even though we hadn't seen each other in quite a few years, she had an active influence on my life. One I wasn't able to express to her fully before she passed.

So to keep my mind occupied, I decided to resume my work-in-progress edits the day after I found out she died.

Big mistake.

Later, I looked over those words and went. Oh. Boy.

I was not in the mind space for this.

Which is why admitting it is the first step.

Step 2: Step away from the muck until it's a tiny speck. 

But then what?

That's where the space comes in. The day after my disastrous edits, I took a few days for myself, where I didn't have to do anything. Where I could reminisce about my friend with those I cared about, and those who knew her. This allowed me to work through my grief to the point where it wasn't all-consuming.

Step 3: Clean out the speck so your eyes can see clearly. 

Once you can see the muck for a speck, removing it is easier (though sometimes step two takes longer than I'd like). And once it's gone, you can see things you didn't before. Case in point, I had a plot flaw that was making all kinds of dust bunnies in my manuscript. I'd thought about this problem for weeks, months at a time, with no solution.

But after the speck vanished--the solution came, and it actually tied into another plot element I hadn't known what to do with before that point.

An ideal mind space is clear enough to see a path forward. Wide enough to let in possibilities.

But sometimes, steps one through three will have to be repeated, depending on how much muck you have. Which brings me to this:

Step 1-A: When the muck's purpose is recognized, it can be easier to clean.

Once I realized the purpose my friend had in my life, it was easier for me to be at peace with her passing. She was not only someone who influenced me, but also brought me to my truer self. And in that way, her memory still has purpose for me.

What about you? What's in your mind space? What's not there that you think should be? And in what ways will you allow yourself space?

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