How to Think Like a Writer

Most people think like this: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&W­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­B&WB&W But writers think like this: !?^~*€¥§‡««¤µ†~*¿!?^~*€¥▼{‡¬««µ†~^~*€¥▼{£§‡«¤µ We can’t help ourselves.

While driving to work I think about imaginary characters, or the tarp in the back of the truck in front of me that looks like there’s a body beneath it, or the street sign I just passed that was called “Bread and Milk.”

Bread and Milk Road

I don’t think about paying the bills, or going to the supermarket, or if the kitchen floor needs to be waxed. Normal humdrum stuff doesn’t get caught in my brain.

“How come my brain doesn’t work like yours?” you may ask. “Mine isn’t equipped to think in bizarro writer mode.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my B&W thinking friend. It’s like what Glinda the Good Witch told Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, “You had the ability to get home all along.”

Which incidentally pissed me off that she waited until the end to tell Dorothy that. You, my B&W thinking friend, just need to start looking at the world in a different way. Turn off the practical humdrum switch in your brain that remains in upright “normal” position, comforted by numbers and lists and repetitive functions that cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

And start thinking out of your skull while driving to work. Think about that weird clerk with the crooked nose and pink framed glasses who just handed you your prescription at the drug store.

Was she human or goblin? Start playing the “what if” game that writers love to play.

What if the clerk gulped down a bunch of different colored pills while the pharmacist was on the phone, and she turned into a goblin?

What if my husband was captured by aliens while he was in the bathroom and that’s really a doppelganger husband standing there tucking his shirt into his pants?

What if a card-carrying birder shoots a cat with a paint ball gun because the cat kills the birds in his yard? Oh, that really happened.

Yes, my B&W thinking friend. You, too, can be as weird as I am. But use the bizarro superpower thinking sparingly at first, especially while driving.

Some B&W thinkers have been known to overuse the superpower before becoming familiar with it.

And they’ve ended up in a padded room thinking about that word math problem they got wrong on a test in fifth grade:

“what time will the train arrive in Los Angeles if it leaves New York City at 3 a.m., stops in Chicago for thirty minutes, where you have lunch at a hoagie shop; the train breaks down for 45 minutes because there was a screw loose, then the conductor passes out for an hour from the stench of onions wafting from your breath …”

That’s why I never think about numbers. They can make you crazy.

Are you a right brain or left brain thinker? Or does your brain straddle both hemispheres?

19 Comments How to Think Like a Writer

  1. Brenda

    Brilliant, even awesome comes to mind. So true, so very true. Have you read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande? It was written ages ago, back before writing was a fad. Anyho, she talks about the writer’s mind and how we look at the world. I confess aliens are not at the forefront of my scenarios, but that’s my just my color of the rainbow.

    1. Lauren

      Thanks Brenda.

      No, I haven’t read that book. Sounds like one I’d like to read. A book I loved that talks about the creative process that I highly recommend is called the War of Art. I don’t usually write sci fi. I like to write dark fiction with a humorous twist. Though I do have this one story, set in the future, about this girl who is scheduled for termination. I have to finish the revisions on it.

  2. Atul

    The thinking ways that you mentioned of that of normal person and a writer is really hilarious. I am still laughing how you come back to that conclusion and how much time you took in that thoughts 🙂

  3. Rum Punch Drunk

    I think I’m a mishmash of the two but I think straight most of the time. A 70/30 split. No a 60/40 is more realistic. When I get thinking crazy, I’m likely to burst out in laughter in the middle of the street looking like a real mad person or if I’m waiting to see the doctor, you just see people keeping their distance from me. So it might be a good idea for me to keep that side of me ‘suppressed’ at times.

    It is good idea to always try to think outside the box though, as you open yourself up to so many new and creative ideas.

    1. Lauren

      I know. Bursting out into a fit of laughter in the middle of the street can be disconcerting for others. Though it would be a great experiment to gauge their reactions. I do most of my laughing in the car. It would be tough if I had to walk to work. I also talk to myself. I’m surprised the folks in the white coats haven’t been by yet.

      I think nowadays because of technology kids are less inclined to think creatively.

      1. Agent 54

        I just let it rip.

        Ha ha ha Hardy har har I don’t care where I am I just don’t give a damn.

        In fact, my low opinion of the “human race” gives me many options that others don’t have.

        I just figure that these morons will have to put up with me or I will transform into a Minotaur and eat them.

  4. Phil

    That’s pretty much how I drink when I’m thinking. No, wait, I meant it’s how much drugs I use when drunking. No, no, wait. It’s I think when drunking and druggering.

    Actually, I think like that about things no matter if I’m drinking or sober. Warped minds make better writers!

    (no drugs were taken during the context of this reply)

    1. Lauren

      hahahha! That’s why I don’t take heavy duty mind altering drugs. It would make me normal.

      Don’t drink and think! LOL!

      I agree. “Warped minds make better writers!”

  5. meleah rebeccah

    Oh — so THAT’S how “normal” people think? How sad for them.

    Good tips to help them open their minds!

    And hooray for writer thinking! Life is so much more colorful this way.

    1. Lauren

      Too much booze definitely opens your mind. : ) I’ll try sticking a plastic bag over my head and reducing my oxygen intake. I’ll let you know how it goes if I survive.

  6. Agent 54

    I have a boring day job that allows me to think of stuff like bar fights involving squirrels in love and Sasquatch space aliens all day long.

    Why didn’t Dorothy slap the “Good Witch” for holding out? Why didn’t Dorothy get charged for killing the “Wicked Witch”. I mean you just can’t go out and kill Wicked people. Wicked people have families too.

    I’m a birder and I like my cats with barbecue sauce, beans and guacamole.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.