I’m still having a little break from the novel – but busy working on other projects. Or at least I was – until my concentration (always a bit flighty at the best of times) plunged off the bottom of the scale.
I’ll be honest – I know exactly what’s causing it. He’s tall, muscular, bloody gorgeous and a VERY bad idea. (It’s great!)
But, I don’t want it to take over my life (especially as it will most likely end in tears), so I need to get my mind back in check and under control. I worked out that if I spent as much time and energy on writing, or even on working, as I do on day-dreaming then I’d be unstoppable. The trouble is, I’ve honed my powers of day-dreaming to almost super-human levels over my life so suddenly taking control and turning it round is proving to be a challenge.
I’ve tried the ‘STOP’ technique. That’s where you tell yourself to ‘STOP’ whenever you notice your mind wandering – but then I’m left with a void. What do I think about, then? It’s a bit like trying to not think about elephants – the more you try, the more they’re marching around in your head.
I’ve got two techniques that sometimes seem to work. One is a form of meditation – focusing on sensations, breathing – then trying to slowly turn the attention back to the task in hand. Works sometimes. The other is to drown out mental chatter – for example with the radio, which works better with talking than music. For some reason, music seems to enhance my day-dreams. If the radio isn’t an option, then I try to jam it with meaningless mental chatter of my choosing. Random song lyrics, lines of poetry or even a running commentary on what I’m doing. It stops day-dreaming but also effectively stops me from getting on with anything else useful at all.
What I really want to be able to do is to control the imaginative, day-dreaming part of my mind. It can be very creative and I know I do have incredible powers of concentration – but I can’t focus it on anything remotely useful.
I’ve noticed that I start to day dream when faced with something boring or that doesn’t really interest me – which is not much of a surprise. But the real key is to be more aware of how I start to day-dream – what are the mental cues that throw me into the state where I can fully visualise and focus so well? If I can master those, or so my theory goes, I can train myself to use similar cues to work out plots or dialogue (in boring meetings, for example) or to focus my attention on a dull task (and so become more productive at work).
Nice theory, isn’t it?!