All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Words in the Fog

Yes, I am going to start off another post whining about my health. I have been recovering from pneumonia and I think I am just about there. The only part that is lingering a little too long is... the fog. Maybe you've heard of brain fog - it being one of the extreme symptoms of long COVID where a person can barely put thoughts together. For most people, the fog is not as crippling. However, it does make ideas and concepts more difficult to grasp and process. And being that I am in the fog these days, I know of what I speak.

Fortunately, I have gotten into this place a few times and in doing so, learned how to manage when my brain's vision is very restricted. It's tough to do, but it can be a very beneficial writing exercise even when you are not trapped in the pea-soup struggles of limited mental capacity. In fact, it can help with a lot of things - meditation comes to mind - where it is all about living in a small world, not a big one.

Think about being in the worst fog you've known - in a weather sense for now. The kind that triggers all kinds of fears because most of the world you've known is shadowy and obscure. The stuff you wouldn't want to drive in - or worse yet, that you have to drive in but can barely see the road. What is your strategy for moving through it? What is your plan?

The simplest move is to set your sight on the nearest thing in your field of vision - a streetlight, the road, a tree. You take that one item and train yourself on it. You approach it, bring it closer, try to identify the slightest detail about it. You think you see a tree nearby. Take a step closer and inventory the details. Would you call it tall or broad? Skinny or leafy? Alive or dead? Bring yourself closer to it, trying to answer whatever detail you can see. Get it to the point where you can answer those questions, then ask more? Does it have bark? Broken branches? Could you climb it? (Disclaimer: Don't climb trees in the fog.) Focus all of your attention on the simple, the mundane, and understand the tree piece by piece.

Whether you are in a mental fog or a writer's fog, the exercise is to just take on one piece of the world. I have written myself out of the fog simply by writing a narrative about the feel of the keys of my keyboard as I type those very words. I focus on their give, their resistance, the slight texture of each key (except for the smooth A, S, D, and W - if you know, you know.) I explore one simple element, bringing my whole world down to that level. And from there, I create.

Now, does anyone care about a narrative piece about someone typing on a cold winter's morning, and getting a three-paragraph description of how the keyboard feels? I am thinking no. However, I do know that when I created that piece years ago during a similar illness, it helped me concentrate. It helped me focus. It helped me write. Ultimately, I was able to create something when my mind needed to create anything. And this piece you have just read might not be perfect, but it was written through a pretty bad fog by simply bringing my attention to a very specific part of my process. The rest, as they say, is just letters.      

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