Reverb10: Why lack of time is not the real problem. It's brain fog.

At first I didn't really think today's Reverb prompt was meant for me. "What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?"  I don't really consider myself to be a writer despite this blog. My reaction was, I'm an artist. What gets in the way of my painting is much more important than the writing. But then I realized that this prompt was from the Zen Habits guy, and since Leo's pretty smart, maybe I should see where this answer would lead me.

Which was here: Brain fog. All the clutter in my brain that makes it hard to think sometimes. Maybe more often than sometimes. That makes me want to not think.

And even though I sometimes feel the brain fog clear when I write, this clarity doesn't happen always, or even half the time. So even though it would be cool to say "the problem and the solution are one and the same!" - no. I don't get off that easily. This is not a closed circuit.

The largest factor in my resistance to writing is my perceived lack of time. Whenever I've tried writing-every-day challenges, it's great at first, and I can feel my load being lightened, however slightly. But, it never lasts. And that is because during the challenge I've put off other things in order to make time for writing. And the putting-things-off is not a long-term solution. And I eventually freak out over the stuff on the back burner. About not getting a million and one things accomplished. About not having unlimited hours in a day.

I know what you're thinking: But you said "brain fog" was the problem, and here you're talking about time.

True, I did say that. And here's why.

What happens when I think there's not enough time, is my brain starts to fog up. Too much of my memory gets taken up by trying to hold in my head little bits & pieces of info about the things I want to get done. Remember! You have to do this! And that! Hurry, so you don't forget! And I can see that clearly not all of this is going to happen in one day. Heck, it might not even happen in one month. And then my brain kind of...freezes. I get stuck. I can't decide what to do first. I can't figure out what actions will have the best immediate effects, or longer lasting effects, or set up the next actions to be more efficient, and which of these things are more important. And so what fills my head is omg, what am I gonna do, this isn't working. And, fog. No clarity. This is not the kind of mental state best suited to creating anything, be it writing, painting, or even cooking dinner. Oh no! Because I can't afford that kind of time when there are all these things to do!

So no, it's not the limited nature of time that is my problem, but in how I react to that limitedness.

Which is by freezing into a big foggy block of stuck.

And this is not limited to writing, it applies to pretty much everything. Which suddenly make so much sense. So, a big thank you to Leo Babauta, the author of today's #reverb10 prompt, for posing a question about one thing that sneakily allows me to find the answer to so many things I've been struggling with.
And you know what I think will help to eliminate this? Awareness of what's going on inside my head when I'm like this. It's not going to get me all the way there, but you can't fix a problem until you know it exists. This is something I will need to mull over more. Perhaps with a mug of cocoa.
Photo credit: AM Fog by Peter Roome (lakewentworth on Flickr)


  1. Serendipity! I was thinking a lot about my own brain fog today, so this post really resonates.

    I'd like to create an inner lighthouse for myself, where I can feel safe and strong when the fog rolls in -- and where I can perhaps even learn to keep a light burning, and keep a patient vigil, and keep all my ships/dreams/goals from crashing on the rocks. Lovely metaphor -- I don't know how to bring it to life yet, but the metaphor itself feels like a good beginning.

  2. Glad to hear I'm not the only one...

    That is a lovely metaphor, Kat. A lighthouse to keep the fog at bay.