Split Mind: The Semi-Hallucinant Writing Process

"Vibrancy in the story makes the scene live on the page"
-Sandra Scofield, The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer
As a tribute to my three years as the Arts & Entertainment editor of The Echo, Colby College’s weekly newspaper, Amanda Mello ‘09 featured me in the “Spotlight: On the Arts” column. Described in this article (and our interview) was the semi-hallucinant state that I experienced when leaving a concentrated period of writing. While leaving my study corral at Miller library, my mind would remain half in the world I imagined while re-emergining into this reality.

This past week, however, I experienced that strange feeling while still in the world of my writing. I sat at my desk, rereading The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield, when I came across the following passage…

This may seem like a logical breakdown of how scenes are structured, but I nearly spit out a mouthful of coffee. Scofield was referencing “Riley” and “Eva,” the two characters in my book that I was currently thinking about. I immediately stood up, shook out my legs, and made sure I was in the right reality (see: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere).

In that moment, as in many moments when I read writing guides, my mind lived half in the instructions that Scofield offered and half in constructing the scene that I was having such trouble with. My attention was divided or--put another way--I was making good use of my inattention.

My mind is often split when brainstorming scenes in this way. Scofield’s non-fiction instructions act as fuel for my own creative process. When my monkey mind’s frolicking about, imagining characters and their interactions, reminders of form center it and offer inspire the outlines that structure my scenes.

I wanted to share this anecdote with you to demonstrate that inattention should not necessarily be restricted. Those of you with ADHD just need to find constructive ways that put it to use.

Have you found similar uses for your inattention?