I was having a random conversation with a colleague (with whom I share an office) today about how hard I find it to sit at a desk and think. Not just in the run of the mill process of thoughts (although lets admit it perhaps that is the case sometimes), but moreso the deep thinking required to think through complex issues or try and work out a solution to a work problem.
I’ve touched before on how I need to talk out loud to think, and sometimes in an office environment that’s not always an option, so I have to improvise. For me, the next best thing to being able to talk through my thoughts is to write them on a whiteboard or some other kind of unconventional space. Anything that’s not a computer screen or a book and usually when I’m standing as opposed to sitting, so this morning that’s what I got up and did.
As I was muttering to myself (lest I forget my train of thought) and half trying to hold a conversation with said colleague, I casually mentioned that I do my best thinking in the shower (hmm, mildly inappropriate with my male colleague, perhaps but I think we moved past that point years ago), and that I use a diving tablet and pencil to jot down thoughts and ideas as I wash my hair or soak under the spray. Doesn’t everyone?
Yeah, well, apparently not! I was looked at as though I had three heads and was off my rocker!
What?? he questioned.
Why?? he spluttered.
How?? he wondered.
So I explained myself and he still thought I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
But that’s ok because it works for me!
So here it is, my high tech think station – in black and white as it shows up the pencil better:
I recognised about 12 months ago that once I stepped into the shower it was like I had taken a truth serum and the answers would just appear or that the water created an immense sense of clarity so that all my thoughts crystallised and I could distill them quite logically once I was in there. But, the minute I got out of the shower and towelled off, the thoughts vaporised! So I started to to try a few things. I tried whiteboard markers but they wouldn’t take to the glass or tiles once they were wet and if you managed to get some writing on a dry surface, the condensation would cause the marker to run. I googled for waterproof papers and other options until I stumbled across the diving tablet.
The tablet is just a tough plastic board with a rough writing surface. Normal pencils work like a charm and although it can take a bit to wipe off it’s nothing that a bit of JIF can’t fix. I use it to jot down things that just happen to come to mind like things to do, or buy at the supermarket. I often outline story ideas or write dialogue or scenes and lately I’ve been fleshing out work conundrums. I have been using this system for about 6 months and I love it. Once I’m done I take a photo on my phone and either transcribe or file it away for future use! I couple this method with the voice memo app on my phone, but obviously you can’t use your phone in the shower!
So yes, I acknowledge it’s a little out of the box, but you’ve got to go with whatever works, right?
What kind of thinker are you (extroverted and need to think out loud like me or introverted and quite happy to sit in your own head and process your thoughts)? Do you use unconventional methods to keep your thoughts together?