Knit-Thinking

Knit-thinking is what I’m calling my writing sessions during which I use yarn to get me away from my actual computer, making brain-room for actually brainstorming ideas about whatever isn’t working in a WIP.

For years, I’ve heard other writers talk about the activities they do to clear their head so their minds can wander around and some writing problem. A lot of people garden. Not me. Others cook or bake. Nope. Many go for a walk. I love walking with a friend, not so much just me and my brain. So I kept sitting at my computer, forcing myself to keep my fingers off the keyboard for a while, trying to just…think. It wasn’t and still isn’t a completely unsuccessful technique–I do get the occasional idea, and some even work out. But it can be painful to just stare at the screen or off into space, waiting for something to come.

Then one morning, I was really stuck on a WIP and I was craving some knitting time. I decided I would see if I could do any actual thinking, while my hands and eyes were focused on the current knitting project. I put on some music that I wouldn’t be able to sing along to–maybe The Duhks, maybe it was some Klezmer. (I can bop along to music with lyrics when I’m actually typing words onto a page, but not while I’m thinking about what those words should be. The Duhks aren’t lyricless, the words blend in so well with the music, it amounts to the same thing. And I don’t speak Yiddish.) And I pulled out the yarn and needles.

scarf

And it worked! It is still working–beautifully. Oh, of course, there are days when I stay stuck, and there are days when I get distracted and mess up on the knitting so badly that I have to let the writing thoughts go and catch all the stitches that are threatening to drop. But the majority of days, I have to keep a notebook and pen handy (along with my morning tea, sometimes a bit of breakfast, and the cat–it becomes a pretty crowded couch). Because the ideas come. When I’ve collected enough, I schedule myself some writing-without-knitting time, take myself back to my computer, and see where the new thoughts take the story. Sometimes they go nowhere, which can mean more knitting, or–if the wall I’m pounding my head against feels particularly hard–picking up another WIP to play with. Which also means more knitting.

hat

I think, even when I don’t make a lot writing progress, I’m still less frustrated. Knitting has become something relaxing for me to do, a bit meditative. And even when I don’t spark with new story ideas, I do make progress with my knitting. (Despite the dropped stitches.)

blanket

Do you have a “thing” that keeps your hands busy and your brain active that lets you escape the tension of BIC? What’s your equivalent of knit-thinking?

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