Writing, “Head Space”, and Me

The Dalek of Cecil Court, London. Notoriously shy, but not very good at hiding.

The Dalek of Cecil Court, London. Notoriously shy, but not very good at hiding.

I can be incredibly thick when talking to people. Including, and especially, myself. Consider the following: “Oh no, Doctor Who doesn’t return to the Beeb til autumn! What am I going to do until then?”

Because those DVDs are just around to make the place look more cluttered, yes?

Telling the difference between (a) lazing about reading and/or watching telly and surfing the net because I need a bit of time out, versus (b) goofing off because I can’t be arsked to write, can be (c) tricky. (1)

Some writer friends and I had a conversation (2) recently around the concept of “head space”. My Tai Chi teacher referred to head space as “the chattering monkeys”. If you’re feeling reasonably well, you’ve probably experienced this as daydreaming. Or, perhaps, a sudden thought such as: “I wonder what’s for tea?” in the middle of, say, a university lecture, or team meeting. (3)

For some, the experience is less one of considering curry versus pasta, and more to do with nasty inner voices.

Whether we experience them as our overly critical selves, or as real people from our past, or present, such voices can be both greedy, and pushy. They can, if we become unwell, demand and grasp until they occupy virtually all our head space. Until our thoughts are filled with the most vicious of garbage:

“No one wants to know!”
“Who do you think you are?”
“No one loves you!”

On and on they go, into ever-nastier circles of fear and self-loathing, until we just want to run away, and hide.

But you can’t hide from the head space suckers. You can try. But odds are, you’ll be about as successful as my Dalek friend (photo at top).

A notebook, a pen, tea, cake and...what? Do I need anything else?

A notebook, a pen, tea, cake and…what? Do I need anything else?

One question that my friends and I discussed was this: “What happens when the monkeys stop chattering?” Confronted with a head space which has been swept clean – or, more realistically, significantly tidied – of mental crap, what do you fill it with?

To quote one of my friends: “Whatever you like.”

Fortunately for me, one of the things I most like to fill mine with, is also one of my favourite, and best, tools for sweeping my head clean.

It’s writing.

Whether it’s this blog, a novel, or the short stories which make up “What! No Pudding?” or the upcoming collection, “Koi Carpe Diem“, it doesn’t seem to matter. Getting together with other writers, or interviewing them for the radio, is great. Writing is better, though.

Whatever helps clear your head, I wish you godspeed, and good journey. And whatever you find to fill it with, instead, have fun.

Happy head space, everyone!

Owl Bag, shown here taking time out during a holiday to select a good book.

Owl Bag, shown here taking time out during a holiday to select a good book.

(1) No, of course I can’t multi-task. Remembering to put the washer on before doing the washing up is about as good as it gets.

(2) Occasionally, I like to have conversations with other people. Not just myself, or fictional characters. Or Daleks. Which may well be fictional characters, but I’m not about to tell them.

(3) If your wits have a habit of wool-gathering during surgery, rocket science, or the like, I do not want to know.

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