Home » Uncategorized » Re: How to Clear One’s Mind

Re: How to Clear One’s Mind

I would like to let all the lovely web bots and lonely souls who post spam comments to my blog know that, even if I don’t allow the comments to become visible to the public, I do read every one of them. I’m very touched by the high esteem in which you hold my writing, though you might want to try and make it seem a bit more like you actually read the blog post on which you are commenting. Today I received a particularly interesting comment that I would actually like to respond to:

First of all I would like to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior
to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind
in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first
10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to
figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Thanks!

This comment happened to be in response to my recent post, PANIC!!!, in which I hope I conveyed a sense of, well, panic in the tone of my writing. In the case of that particular post – as well as most of the ones about my actual life experiences, dilemmas, and emotions – writing the post was my process of centering myself and clearing my mind.

I often begin my posts with a strong sense of what I want to express in writing, but no idea what words I’ll use or where the post might go. I pretty much just start typing. I like to write because it forces the thoughts to “get in line;” only one can come out at a time and first they have to form themselves into remotely-coherent English sentences. Writing is the process through which I get the jumbled mess of nebulous thoughts and conflicting emotions out into a form where I can literally look at them. It’s like looking in the mirror, except that instead of freaking out over a new zit I can enable my rational mind to process all the important information my emotional self is trying but failing to communicate to it.

I read and re-read each post several times during the process of writing. I edit as I read – I catch and have the opportunity to fix typos and grammatical errors that way. I also take the opportunity to re-word sentences so they will be easier to read and understand, and so they can more accurately convey whatever I’m trying to express through them.

The reading and re-reading of the post as I’m writing also serves to center my thoughts – again, as I’m writing. It’s part anxiety management, part a reminder of what I’ve written so far and where I’m going, part how I make sure that the post is coherent. I’ve re-read this post several times, now, so I know that it’s been about my writing process and not about, say, cheese. I also have a strong sense of the tone I’ve been using, so I can continue to use it for the remainder of the post.

My experience of written language is almost identical to my experience of spoken language, the only real difference being that with written language I have to see the words with my eyes before I get to “hear” them in my head. Similarly, while I am writing, I hear the words in my head instead of with my ears and move my fingers instead of my mouth to share them with the world. The biggest difference between spoken and written language is that it’s easier to remember what I wrote – I can read it! – and I have a chance to edit it before anyone else gets to read it. Once the spoken words are said they’ve been said, they can’t be taken back, and we might disagree on what they were.

I believe that the way I experience written language gives me a significant advantage when it comes to reading – and especially writing. Both processes come very naturally to me; sometimes they are actually easier than spoken conversation! (If nothing else, interruptions are less likely to mean I never get to make my real point.)

That said, I do also find it helpful to read the post aloud. Reading a post aloud helps make its content feel more real to me and to center my thoughts around the topic. I also find I can express my emotions better through the inflection of my voice. Sometimes I even become more aware of my emotions when I hear myself: “Wow, I sound really angry! I must be angry! Who knew?”

The process is a bit different if I’m writing on a more academic subject, whether for school or in a post like The Complexities of Language, Gender, and Identity. Then I need to do research – to learn what others have written about the topic, organize all the different ideas, think critically, and respond to them.

I tend to organize my own thoughts through – not prior to – writing. That said, it helps to start with a clearer sense of what points I want to make, what information backs them up, and where I got that information. I like to start papers – such as the one I’m procrastinating by writing this post instead – by creating the Works Cited / References page. That makes it easier to keep track of what sources I’m using and to cite them in the actual paper because I already have a handy list, complete with the authors’ last names. Sometimes I’ll make an outline, even if it’s just a basic list of topics to cover. In the case of “Complexities” (link above), I actually wrote a first draft. If an assignment for school requires a clear thesis, I might wait to write it and/or the introductory paragraph until after I’ve used the process of writing the rest of the paper to fully organize my thoughts.

Finally, popcorn works wonders. Settle in with a nice large bag – or three! – and start munching. Just try not to get too much grease (or crumbs) on the keyboard.

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7 thoughts on “Re: How to Clear One’s Mind

  1. lol.. spam comments can be interesting. I saved them for a few months and did a post on them. They seem to come in waves, and seldom make sense. I often see someone answer them on their blog, sort of confused like. It is hard to know sometimes when it is some bot or twit… posting them.

    some of them can be a bit amusing though.

    🙂
    psst, this isnt a spam comment.

    *hugs*
    Amber

    Like

    • Thanks, Amber. *hugs back*

      I’ll admit I check the spam comments to see if maybe Akismet caught something that isn’t actually spam … though it seems to be really good at catching the real spam and letting legit comments – such as yours – through. Thanks for taking the time to comment, by the way. I love getting real comments from people, and I always read them even if I don’t always respond.

      Sometimes I find spam comments interesting or amusing and sometimes I think I should save them to respond to later – possibly in a clump – but I tend to end up just deleting them. This one happened to ask a question remotely relevant to my life, if not the post it was in “response” to, so I decided to answer it. Out of curiosity, how are bloggers’ responses to spam comments “sort of confused like”?

      – Ziya

      Like

      • Some spam comments are close, but then they get sort of weird, English is not always their chosen language, so some words don’t quite work… It becomes a confusing comment, new bloggers will often reply to one that sneaks through the spam filter. I check it all the time as well, some of my regulars have been trapped in there, I find them amusing sometimes too.

        But yes, getting comments is nice. :Conversations often start in the comment section.

        but… pssst, if you answer a comment, you tend to get more. 🙂 except with spam, lol.

        Like

  2. This is interesting. This is how my writing process works, too. At least now. I used to have a lot more trouble with writing, needing to do significant (usually several hours worth) of prewriting before getting out a single sentence. Now it comes a lot more naturally, with the help of LJ which allowed me to get practice at my own pace and on topics of interest.

    I would really like to share my writing with the world more, as you have here, as an activist action but also catharsis for myself, but I’m so nervous about getting spam. I’m not sure if I could handle if people, even strangers (and possibly just bots) said rude things to me on anything close to a regular basis. It would remind me too much of the bullying I endured every day throughout my K-12 education. I have a hard enough time sometimes getting into stupid arguments with friends-of-friends on Facebook, it can ruin my day. I find that people can be a lot more judgmental on the Internet than in person, because there’s a lot of room for misinterpretation. Do you ever get people being rude to you here? How do you handle it?

    I really admire your bravery for sharing so much of yourself here, especially since the subjects you talk about are (unfortunately) often considered taboo. For now I think I’ll just stay in my, protected LiveJournal space, but you have inspired me to reach out to more people someday when I feel more ready.

    Like

    • Thanks! I’m glad to hear writing is becoming easier for you. I also find blogging to be an awesome way to practice.

      The spam I get is rude in the sense that it’s a comment, often with links to who-knows-what, that has nothing to do with what I posted (or is tangentially related). The content is usually something along the lines of “awesome blog” “you could be getting more hits” and “thanks for the informations.” Today I got one asking if I get paid to write my posts. (I don’t.)

      The spam filter is good at catching such comments, which get sent to their own folder. You don’t have to look at them at all. The comments that get through the filter are generally quite nice, to tell the truth. People on WordPress seem to be very supportive.

      As for less awesome comments: There was one person who gave me helpful feedback about the quality of images I used in a post; I later removed the comments so they would not distract other readers who wanted to comment on the actual content of the post. Another person once made a rude comment about the quality of other readers’ comments; I just outright trashed that comment. Yes, I find it a bit upsetting, but ultimately I get to decide what appears on this blog.

      Regarding bravery, please remember that I’m hiding behind a pen name. Yes, a select few people know who I am, but it’s not like I’m shouting this stuff from the rooftops in front of potential employers, co-workers, classmates, the people who gave me a hard time in high school, former professors, friends-of-friends, family, etc. Anonymity does wonders for being able to share this stuff with the world.

      Like

  3. When I first started blogging I thought they were actual comments. I quickly wised up to them but they are annoying.. Still, at least we know our blogs are being seen by people lol.

    Like

    • Sometimes I’m not so sure they’re people. I think a lot of the time they’re bots. Actually, I’d rather they be bots, because some of the spam comments can be interpreted as really insensitive if they’re coming from someone who actually read the post, or at least what the blog is primarily about.

      Like

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