Putting Down Your Thoughts

I really like the term “putting down your thoughts” as a euphemism for writing. It’s more accurate than I first realized.

Imagine picking up a dozen small objects from around your house all at once – a stapler, a frying pan, the TV remote, and so on. Hold them all at once, without anything to carry them in. Now try to do anything. It’s pretty tough!

In order to be productive, you have to put some of that stuff down. My thoughts are like that, except they’re sticky. They don’t want to be put down. They all demand my attention, flashing lights and bright sounds, calling on me to engage with them. Some of these thoughts are negative and imposed from the outside. Some are quite positive and fun, but still demanding!

“Putting them down” is, well… putting them down. So I can free up my brain for a bit. Writing just quiets them for a while, appeases them. They’ll be back, of course – they never stay down long. But it’s manageable.

It’s especially helpful to get unstuck from loops. Sometimes a particular snippet will just repeat ad nauseum and I can’t move past it. Unless I write it down. From there I can build it out to its natural end or just exorcise it completely, but I can take it off the track of my mind.

I carry a notebook, pencil and pen wherever I go. I used to rely solely on note-taking apps, but sometimes the thoughts aren’t words, sometimes they’re pictures or graphs or symbols, and a note-taking app won’t do. But a notebook is always ready.

Some thoughts are tremendously, horrifically bad. Intrusive, unpleasant thoughts can spring when we least expect it. We have fears and anxieties within us, and plenty of ammunition for them externally. It’s only natural that sometimes you have a thought so bad that it will poison you and destroy you if allowed to remain. Like a wild animal that’s gotten a taste for human flesh. Only one thing to do.

Put it down.

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