Thinking Is the Writing of the Mind

If that sounds a little off-the-wall to you, consider for a moment what writing is and what it accomplishes. As I have said many times, for me, when the facts are scattered like feathers in a pillow-fight, it’s writing that grabs each feather out of the air and nails it to the table. Writing it out has helped me through so many rough spots in my life, as well as when the pen goes dry in a novel.

If that’s true—and it is for me—then thinking irons out the wrinkled mind

Down time is a common suggestion to whatever stands in the way of creative work, whether that be painting, working out a successful choreography, getting past a bout of writer’s block or solving an engineering problem. And what is down time but an excuse to get out of the office or studio to lie down under a tree in the park and think? Some people meditate, others keep a journal, for me I head to the woods or the back of a horse.

Put aside the chatter of advice, watch some clouds form or ducks fly and free your mind. If Paul Simon is right and ‘there must be fifty ways to leave your lover,’ there are as many to clear your head. ‘Just step out the back, Jack and set yourself free.’

A free mind is never empty and a cluttered mind never free

But it’s open and being open to the silence of isolation allows some really off-the-wall ideas to seep in. Off the wall is seldom a solution, but it may lead to a whole string of whatabouts, whynots and maybies. No voice is there to criticize, no ego to intervene and no partner, co-creator or financial backer to see you naked.

So that’s my advice to being stuck or overwhelmed—after all, they’re two extremes of the same problem, either too many feathers or not a feather in sight.

Get yourself off into another Paul Simon location—‘the sound of silence.’

It’s the best creative space I know and I go there often. Find yours when you need a place to charge your batteries.



An extract from ‘Tulsa’

“I’d like to know you naked, so I could better understand you dressed / Clothes get between us, hiding what’s behind your eyes and mine,” I write, in a poem named Tulsa. These lines perfectly reflect the tone of a collection of poetry that exposes my poetic side,...

The Trouble with Getting Published

Thirty years ago, when I first came to Prague to ‘write and live in Europe,’ I made a serious error of judgement. I had access to a 50-year-old motorcycle, a Jawa two-cycle twin and decided to ride it over the Austrian Alps down into Italy to see a friend. In itself,...

When the Going Is the Point

A friend I hold in high esteem says, “when we get to where we’re going…perhaps we should stop. Unless the going was the point.” That’s a fascinating premise to me because it explains a lot about the reasons we are here on this earth and if we’re making a difference....

ChatGPT and the future of writing

Yeah well, the news is full of robots taking over the world and will the next great novel be written by artificial intelligence. Seems to me the future is written into the name. Are we willing to settle for 'artificial' intelligence when what we actually want is the...