I’m dealing with squirrel brain at the moment. It’s different from fuzzy brain in that squirrel brain feels like I have lots of thoughts that don’t yield much depth or connection, while fuzzy brain is like finding it difficult to think or concentrate in the first place.
(This is cool! I’m developing the ability to distinguish among suboptimal states, like the ones I sketched in September last year. Squirrel brain is a little like “buzzy,” I guess, but it has a slightly different feel to it. More diffuse, but not diffuse-as-in-fog. More like scattered, maybe? A different scattered state would be if I knew there were interesting sets of thoughts to explore, but I was too jittery to follow one through. This one is more like… I’ve got the seeds of possibly-interesting ideas, but they haven’t grown enough yet.)
Anyway, since I’m probably not the only one who’s dealt with squirrel brain and I will most likely run into it again in the future, here are some notes. The self-compassionate approach of accepting it is what it is seems to work out better than trying to push myself to come up with something deep and insightful.
Come to think of it, my favourite writing times are when I’ve been noodling my way around a topic for a while (through sketches and other blog posts), so when I write, I can see the connections, and I can share results from little experiments. So this here – this squirrel brain – might just be because I’m wrapping up some things that have occupied my brain for a while. (Maybe I should do more of the mental equivalent of succession planting…) Anyway, if I keep finding, collecting, and organizing the jigsaw pieces of my thoughts – or, to return to the previous metaphor, planting lots of seeds – it will probably come together later on.
Index cards work well for those. They’re small chunks, so I don’t feel like I need to think big or deep thoughts. If I make myself draw five or more index cards, I tend to find myself revisiting some thoughts, which is good. The first shallow pass clears my mind and gets things out there. Then I can see what I’ve been thinking and develop it in a second or third or fourth pass. Working digitally is great. I don’t even have to worry about wasting paper or keeping things organized for scanning.
As for writing – I feel a slight urge to be helpful and say useful things in blog posts. I tell people not to be intimidated by that in their own blogs, so I should remember to treat my blog as a personal thinking and learning tool. (If other people find value in it, that’s icing on the cake.)
From time to time, I might post more thinking-out-loud things like this. Not quite stream of consciousness… I tried dictating to my computer earlier, while I was pinning up the bias binding for my gingham top, and I think dictation makes me feel even more fragmented. Anyway, this sort of semi-stream-of-consciousness writing – launching off some drawings, trying to quickly capture an idea – that might be a way for me to work around squirrel brain. The important thing is to plant those seeds, keep collecting those jigsaw pieces, keep writing and drawing. If I forget or I let things blur together, I won’t get to those moments when things click.