Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How do I know what I think till I see what I write?

Tēnā koutou katoa Greetings to you allFractal thought patterns.

A recent post by Ken Stewart, entitled Why Do You Write? prompted me to write my usual post-type comment.

Writing does three things for me:

1- It helps me organise my thoughts

When I think, I usually have two or three thought-threads running through my mind. Sometimes more. Sometimes they get mixed together, not so that I'm confused necessarily, for I can cope with that.

It is more of a prioritisation, for I find it difficult to prioritise competing thoughts that are nevertheless parallel on a topic. The thought-threads become less tangled when I write them and edit what I write.

2- Prioritising my thoughts sparks further thought

By prioritising my thoughts in a visual way I engage other ideas and thoughts that are in the background. Some are as if they were in the subconscious, others vague and indistinct come into sharper focus.

There are many parts of the brain that lie unused or that are used almost exclusively for specialist jobs, such as the visual cortex to do with sight and parts to do with processing hearing. Studies have shown that blind people use the visual cortex despite not being able to see.

Is it possible that sighted people can use this 'visionary' and sophisticated part of the brain for other purposes than processing visual responses from the retina? Perhaps the visual cortex is invoked, not necessarily in just processing visual responses, when a person sees their thoughts in a written, visual form. Who knows? But when my background thought-threads are written down, I can list them alongside more conscious thought-threads.

3- Writing puts to rest serendipitous thought-threads

There is an old saying “sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”. I find it difficult to do the latter for thought processes take over when I try to just sit. Some of these go on in the background of my mind all the time. The psychologists tell us that this is normal.

When I become conscious of these thought-threads, I try to make sense of them. Writing helps me do this, for it does 1- and 2- above. When these are processed through exhaustive cycles of writing and editing, it is as if the thoughts are put to rest. I can sleep on them.

The famous and ancient poet John Donne wrote:

. . . he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

Could it be that the sentiment behind Donne's line is what this last point is all about?

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later


Ken Stewart said...

Wow, what great thoughts. Thank you for elaborating so well. I truly enjoyed the reading, and will most assuredly be stopping back by to have a good read...

I'm glad that my question can be answered across the globe, and that indeed a passion for writing exists and shall always remain so long as the human spirit is intact.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe Ken!

Welcome to my blog!

Ka kite

Rose DesRochers said...

Writing is great medicine.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Rose, and welcome!

It could be described as consolidating thought. Perhaps this has been with us since the cave people painted their graphic art - and maybe music for this is likely by all accounts.

Ka kite

Kevin said...

Great thoughts and it helps me to clarify my own thinking to learn from others.