“Writers pay attention,” she said.
I thought for a minute. Do I pay attention? I thought I did. Maybe? No–I did; I certainly did. I’m self admittedly nosy. That’s what happens when you love a good story, whether it’s one you overhear at length, catch a snippet of, or even just a glance at. I pay attention, and I find stories.
The problem is I can’t remember them. I told my friend this as she passed my half of our shared scone back to my side of the café table. She suggested the same remedy I would have to her, had she told me she couldn’t remember the stories she captured from strangers. “You need a way to write it down. You should use the notes on your phone.”
It’s good advice. I’ve given that same advice on this blog because it’s good. But what happens when we can’t just then? When our hands are full of groceries, or babies, or packages for the UPS counter. “I’ll write it as soon as I get back to my car,” we tell ourselves.
And then we don’t.
The Scroll is Killing Our Capacity for Recall
You don’t need me to tell you we’re overinundated with data. You’ve been reading that on every keyword-centric marketing blog since the 20teens. You know. We all know. There’s too much info on the internet and therefore too much crud in our brains to really hold onto any good bit of valuable information for more than a few seconds or minutes, maybe.
But I have a new charge, if you will, for us writers.
What if as writers, we have a responsibility to our creativity to quit filling our brain space up with useless junk? If we know scrolling through endless info squashes our capacity for recall, and we know we’re supposed to be safe harbor for story to gather, what are we doing?
I suddenly feel that any time I’ve complained I can’t think up a new story, only to fire up my phone, I don’t deserve much pity. I can’t help but believe that each cubic inch of useless crap I continue to cram into my mind is space I didn’t leave for something better.
And that the next time I sit down to recall some brilliant thing I came across, my subconscious wouldn’t have to thumb through videos of dancing parakeets, conspiracy theory articles on meat plants, Family Feud clips, or boyfriend t-shirt pranks.
It could actually drum up those story-worthy bits: my Pops riding double with Elton Green because his mother told him not to, what cut rhubarb looks like on your hands, a wedding ring discovered in the wash, my Grandfather’s crew socks and tennis shoes in the Florida sand, small town scandals about a blackmailing dominatrix. All of them are clamoring for their place at the front. Why not make the line smaller?
What I’m Doing About It, and You Can, Too
One of the best ways for me to do this is to have a physically designated place that the phone goes. For me, it’s a little tin with a lid that lives in the closet. I think it’s time to bust her back out.
I’d love to know of anyone who wants to join me in shooting for some unplugged hours to better help myself tap into that creative brain power. If you do, that’s rad.
Comment below and tell me what your goal is going to be for revamping your brain space. Maybe it’s less phone. Maybe it’s more reading. Maybe it’s taking up a journal. Tell me. As they say, accountability works wonders.