On Writing: The Pros and Cons of Writing in Your Head

computer think

Part One – The Pros

Are you tired of sitting sedately in front of a computer while you write?  Why not do what I do and spice things up a bit.  For instance, as I write this post, I’m applying a new coat of paint to the guest bedroom.  I also like to write as I dust and mop, while I’m gardening and especially during long stints of ironing. Now why, you might ask, would anyone want to complicate matters like this? Why not sit down at your desk and focus on writing, instead of trying to do two things at once?  There are two answers to this question:

#1. Because I love to write, but my free time is non-existent.

#2. Because I love to write, but I also enjoy a clean house.

Did I mention that I love to write?  Were it up to me, I would wile away my days creating clever characters and composing witty repartee, but I am enough of a realist to know that I would not enjoy the lifestyle afforded by my writing income. As a result, I spend my days clerking at the local library.  As for my nights and other off hours, I spend an overwhelming amount of time tidying, preparing meals, folding laundry, and mowing lawns, which leaves an underwhelming amount of time to write.

Now some would say that one who was truly a writer, would forgo a shining sink in favor of their craft, and in truth, were I were forced to choose between the two pursuits, my sink would never sparkle, but luckily that isn’t necessary.  I have discovered that not only is it possible to write as I clean, cook, fold and mow, but it’s easy to do.

Let’s say I ‘m performing a mundane task like vacuuming the living room. Left to its own pursuits my brain might begin to consider the deplorable state of the carpet I’m cleaning, and ruminate on how many of my meager paychecks it would take to replace it.  Instead of thus plunging myself into the depths of despair, I can redirect my thoughts. I can focus on my next writing project, and begin to organize it in my mind. And so can you.

Maybe you’ve recently read a fascinating book, taken up a new hobby, or discovered a better way of doing things?  Could you turn any of that into a short story or magazine article? If you were writing to a friend about your new interest, what would you say, how would you grab their attention?  Can you think of a snappy opening sentence?  Compose in your head, and before you know it, the housework is finished, and you can race to the computer to put your words down for posterity.


This tendency of mine has two obvious advantages; the first being the elimination of writers block.  By the time I am finally seated in front of the computer, my mind is overflowing with images and phrases that simply must be recorded.  No sitting and staring at a blank screen with this method. Fingers literally fly across the keyboard and the empty screen ceases to intimidate.

Another plus is the fact that multi-tasking makes better use of your time. You can accomplish twice as much when your brain’s down time is put to good use.  If you pay attention, you’d be surprised at how much time you spend thinking about absolutely nothing, or worse, stewing over unsolvable problems. If you train yourself to think productively, you’ll find you spend less time in the twilight zone, and waste fewer moments brooding over the tiff you had with your boss.  Before long, your overall mental state will improve.

Of course we all need some down time.  Once  in a while a writer just needs to relax and read a good book or take a nap, but remember, most of us use only one tenth of our mind’s amazing abilities, as a result, we have a lot of excess brain cells just begging to be utilized.  Writing in your head is like taking your brain to the gym. How many times have heard that keeping the mind active and alert is the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s or other degenerative problems?  Complex creative thinking is good for you, and the memorization involved in this process is an excellent way to keep your mind razor-sharp. So don’t worry about overtaxing the gray matter. Put some of that extra ninety percent to use and watch what happens.

4 thoughts on “On Writing: The Pros and Cons of Writing in Your Head

  1. I usually try to sit and have dedicated writing time and I do pretty well. But then I get up and wash the dishes or go for a walk and all my characters just start blabbing away. I think you’re right: when you step away from the screen and let your imagination take over, great ideas start popping up everywhere! And you get some of those pesky chores done!


  2. Many of my ideas come while waiting for the bus to take me to work each morning. If I have the luxury of getting a seat, I have a notepad to jot down ideas; otherwise I keep them in my head until later. You have given me some great ideas. ~ Dennis


    • Thanks for the comment. This is actually one of my favorite posts, but it didn’t get a lot of response. I have the blessing or curse, if you will, of having words running through my head all day. It’s nice to sit down at the computer and dump it all in a basically ready to publish form. On the other hand, I wish I could turn it off sometimes and just have a little bit of wirters block. No I take that last part back. Knock on wood.


  3. What a good post! Most of my ideas come while I’m away from the computer! I have a habit of sprinting out of the shower, grabbing a towel, and then running in pursuit of pen and notepad. My best ideas come while standing under a faucet of cascading hot water. I certainly like the idea of focusing on writing rather than the minutia of worries, pet peeves, and mundane concerns that threaten to crowd my mind when engaged in household tasks.


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