Embracing the Reality of “Thinking Slow”

I’m a discovery writer, and I just have to live with it. This comes from me being a “thinking slow” person, which might also be related to me being an introvert. It comes out in many different ways. Let me explain.

I don’t feel comfortable speaking on a subject until I’ve thought about it. And thought about it. And then thought about it some more. And then I want to work out exactly how I want to say it.

In fact, I don’t even know what I think until I’ve gone through the process of writing it down. This blog post, for instance, started with a seed. I think I know what I want to say on this topic, but I’m not really convinced, and by the time I’ve gotten to the end, I might have changed my mind. My thoughts, anything beyond “I’m hungry” or “I like that,” don’t coalesce or get ordered until they have been written down.

If I am doing a new speech in public, like a sermon or presentation, I have to write down everything single word that I think I’m going to say. The process is required.

If I am writing a story, I can’t plan out things in advance. It never works. I either get frustrated or distracted, or frustrated that I’m distracted. I have some seeds, typically the beginning and the end, but I have no idea how I am going to connect those dots until I start writing.

Take Princess Hiccup, for example. I knew there would be a princess cursed with hiccups by a dragon, and that a boy would need to defeat that dragon. I honestly had no idea how the lad would actually accomplish the feat, and my mind was blank all the way to the point where I began writing those scenes. It just hit me in the flow of the moment. There are moments in the book that probably surprised me just as much as they surprised you.

If I speak quickly about something that sounds deep and thoughtful and off the cuff…worry not. It’s just an illusion. You can be sure that somewhere, at some time, I’ve taken the time to write down something about it. My memory is pretty good, but it takes a while to build it up so it’s as accessible as a computer’s RAM.

It seems daily journaling would be a beneficial habit for me…but alas, it never catches on. Because while I don’t know exactly what I think until I write it down, I’ don’t get motivated to write anything down until I’ve sat on it, chewed on it, and perhaps even had the chance to dream on it. Maybe I need to think about a bunch of other related (or seemingly unrelated) things first.

It’s sort of annoying. Notice the sporadic posting schedule of this blog? My grand total of two movie reviews over on Medium?

Anyway, I’ve come to accept that this is how I work, and more importantly, its how I put out my best work. I don’t think I will ever be prolific. And that’s OK.

If this has resonated with you in any way, what does that mean? It means you should write. Think you have writers block? It means you should write.

Have a problem you can’t solve? Write it out. Ever had a moment when you were articulating a problem to someone with the written word, and the solution suddenly came upon you as if it plummeted from several thousand feet in the sky and nailed you right between the eyes?

I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

In summary, outlining is for chumps, and everything I learned about writing in public school was a waste of time.

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