There’s a lot on my mind at any given moment. I manage the household, and I run a business. There are always chores to do, meals to cook, and deadlines to meet. I’m a foreigner, living in a country with a language far removed from my own mother tongue. I’ve got physical health issues. I suffer from an anxiety disorder and hypervigilance. Things become overwhelming and I need to stop and center myself. That’s when I sit down at the keyboard. I write because it clears my head.
Writing is one of the few activities that requires 100% of my attention. If I’m trying to process too much, I stop and write. When I get turned around because I’m feeling as if I should be doing three different things at once, I write. If I need to hit pause and regroup because I’m overwhelmed, I write. It doesn’t matter what I write. Fiction, non-fiction, an email, a blog post, anything longer than a grocery list will do. It’s a mental time out.
If you can, imagine the inside of my head as as a cocktail party. The guests are tasks that need my attention. They’re all talking at once, so I can’t hear any of them. Whenever I try to give my attention to one, another interrupts. Writing is like going into another room away from them all. To mix metaphors, writing is “base”, where I’m safe and no one can tag me. When I come back to the party the guests, those pressing tasks, are sitting quietly, waiting for me. Then I can deal with them one by one.. I mean this figuratively, of course; I do not actually hear voices, I’m using an analogy that seems to fit.
This is why the most hectic periods of my life have been my most productive. I drop back and write an essay, or a few pages, even a few paragraphs, then hit the next task. One thing at a time. Each task getting my full attention, until I need to refocus. The more tasks I complete, the fewer guests remain at the party trying to talk over each other. Writing seems to be the key to getting anything and everything else done.
You can read more about Why I Write here.