By: Marilyn L. Davis
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” ― Terry Pratchett, Diggers
Are Writers Great Thinkers?
I do not know if writers, as a group, are “great thinkers”, or simply “constant thinkers”. There might be a distinction and then again, maybe not. Great is:
I believe that most writers do spend an enormous amount of time thinking, they also think about infinite subjects, try to think about the bigger picture, and usually have large vocabularies.
Then if you add the vast arsenal of material that comes to us in sleep, well it is not a leap to say that writers think the majority of the time.
Therefore, writers are Great Thinkers. I like that logic.
Writers typically spend a lot of time in their heads. Most of my friends who are writers read for pleasure as well, so words are always running through our heads. We read billboards, cereal box cartons, we notice street names, and we look for things containing words that might kick-start a headline, or give us something else to ponder.
Inspiration can come from that billboard, that chance encounter at the supermarket, or the overheard snatches of conversation. Writers turn their thoughts and inspiration into articles, blogs, novellas, poems, best-sellers, and tomes. There are many venues for writers to share their thoughts, even if it is just in their personal journal.
Why Do Writers Share These Thoughts?
My personal theory is that we write to dispel the images, words, dialogues remembered and created and stories floating at all times in our brains. I love this quote by the poet, William Edgar Stafford, as it simplifies and elucidates the state of mind of most of the writers I know.
“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.”
Then we figure out which category our writing falls under once we have them grammatically correct. I think that people write to:
- Persuade others
- Communicate and connect
- Express feelings, opinions and thoughts
- Educate others
Do You Have a Ponder Pose?
I was sitting and thinking one night while at my daughter’s house. Everyone was getting ready for us to go to the movies. For some reason, just sitting was uncomfortable, so I struck my ponder pose, looking up, lounged in the big comfortable chair with my feet dangling over the side. I forget how old I am sometimes and just get comfortable. Since I wasn’t in the mood for a quick match 3 game on my phone, I pulled out my trusty notebook and pen.
However, I rested them on my mid-section and closed my eyes to visualize something. My granddaughter walked through the living room and said, “Nana, if you are tired, we don’t have to go; you can stay here tonight.” When I explained I was thinking, she gave me the same look that I have given others that conveys, “Sure, right, caught you.”
I then gave a her a quote from author, Janet Evanovich, “Thinking very often resembles napping, but the intent is different.”
I know my father would have found value in that one; he strongly believed in positive thinking and power naps.
We talked for a few, and I asked her what she thought about when she was not concentrating on a responsibility. She recently headed back to start her sophomore year at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. She’s pre-med, captain of the soccer team and just a great kid. Her responses were:
- Her boyfriend
Although her responses seemed predictable, I wondered about the thoughts of my friends, some writers and others not.
What is the Likelihood of Others Thinking So Much?
Years ago, there was something called a Random Harris Poll. The company called people and asked their opinion on a subject. Of course, today it is online. Since I think the idea is interesting, over the years, I have done my random Davis polls as well. I called 17 friends and asked them how much thinking they did that were not job, relationship, or family oriented. Most of my friends tend to cooperate and here are their results.
- 56% said that they only thought about the three categories for any length of time
- 26% said I should add sports to the categories – yes, they were my male friends.
- 50% said they thought about the economy – equal mix of males and females there
- 65% said they thought about politics (the candidates confuse us all)
However, the vast majority, or 78% said they did not have time to think of anything else besides the three categories; in fact, they did not want to think about anything else.
I am not sure that my random poll is statistically valuable for any serious research data; however, I do have a competent group of friends who represent many sub-groups. Their basic demographics:
- All over 35
- Born outside of USA and US born
- Christian, Non-Christian, Agnostic, Spiritual, and Wiccan
- Have pets and do not have pets
- In recovery and no need for recovery
- Married, Single and Divorced
- Owns their home or rents
- Self-employed and work for others
- Vegan, Vegetarian, and one “full-fledged carnivore”
- White, Black and Other
- With and without children
- Writers and Non-writers
Therefore, they seem like many other people, except me. I spend considerable time thinking about things other than the three categories. I think I can even seem awkward in social situations because although I am listening to the conversations and certainly participate in them; I’m mentally filing snatches of great conversation for a post.
Most of my friends will just say, “Shiny” and ask me if I am taking mental notes for an article at any social gathering. Many of them at one time or another has been a part of a composite person in my addiction articles, so they have a clue as to how my mind works.
I tell them that they are so rich with material that it is hard to keep track of the conversation part of our interaction. They indulge me and still invite me back.
The Davis Poll is Still Open
If you would humor me in your comments, let me know how much time you believe that you spend thinking. How much time do you spend thinking about things other than the three categories?
- Family oriented
If you are a writer, please let me know if you believe that you think more than most people. Again, our thoughts may not be genius level thoughts, just great.
So, as you go about your day, pay attention to what you’re thinking. It may just be that spark that helps you with a decision; gives you direction for a blog post or validates that thinking is both a horizontal and vertical exercise.
Just be careful how much you open that mind of yours, though; there’s a lot of half-baked, incorrect, useless information that might get in. Then again – see that’s the problem with thinking. It just doesn’t end.