CLEW

A penny for your thoughts

Sometimes I wonder if my brain follows the outside temperature, for example when it hits freezing point. Now, in my situation – you know, the expat wife situation – I can allow my brain to come to full stop on days like these. Not at all indicating that expat wife brains stop more easily, I am just once again referring to time and freedom, whereof one benefit might be the possibility to simply take time off if you need it.

Still, you’ll soon have to wind your brain up for various reasons. The American writer and artist Julia Cameron made a writing exercise called “the morning pages”, and it goes something like this: Start your day writing three pages of anything. As in absolutely anything that enters your mind right then and right there. If you’re too busy getting yourself and everybody else in the household ready for a new day, then get up half an hour earlier. Or 35 minutes – make yourself a nice cuppa first.

Easy-peasy? Not necessarily – neither the getting-up-earlier-bit nor the writing – because this is when you find out how totally empty your head can actually be. So then you start writing about how empty your head is until some other thought comes along – like “oh my, those clouds look like a ghost!” – and off you go. Before you know it, your head will be filled with more thoughts than you have time to transfer to a computer screen, so you try to remember the old thoughts while new thoughts keep coming. And then, after the three pages, you just leave that mess of thoughts and get on with your day.

Boring? No, I assure you it can be highly entertaining, quite interesting and at times slightly disturbing to establish what is actually going on in there. The good thing is that there’s no need to analyse, even though it might be tempting, it’s a mess of thoughts, remember! And it can certainly be challenging – any thought must be written down, no skipping and no cheating!

What’s the use? The obvious use is for people with writer’s blocks or other creative blocks, but I believe it can be useful for anybody who needs to structure their thoughts for one reason or other. There can be structure in mess – ask any teenager! In between those surprisingly nonsensical thoughts and teen diary scribblings, there can be that one thought that leads to another that leads to another that leads to an important decision, or pushes you in a certain direction, or gives you a brilliant idea, or gets you writing things that make a lot of sense. And if you do it regularly, you begin to discover patterns in your thoughts that may even point in unexpected directions, or quite simply act as confirmations.

What’s my point? Well, I’m not quite sure…it started out with an empty head and an empty screen, and then the thought of this writing exercise came into my head and it just went on from there… But I guess what I’m saying is it could be worthwhile to catch some of the millions of thoughts that fly and flutter through your head. They don’t escape that easily once they’ve been in your fingertips and end up in front of your eyes, and they might bear more meaning. And just like the teen diary, it’s for your eyes only! Don’t be bribed by a penny!

Then again – maybe it’s just as pointless as things should be from time to time! Happy thoughts and happy mornings!

By Unni Holtedahl, January 2014