The voices in my head

I am re-reading Anne Lamott’s amazing book on writing, Bird By Bird (thanks, @sallylawton). I read it years ago and loved it, but I’m enjoying it even more this time round (at least, I think I am – it’s hard to quantify how much I enjoyed it last time). Either way, it’s wonderful. And this bit really resonated with me:

“Quieting these voices is at least half the battle I fight daily. But this is better than it used to be. It used to be 87 percent. Left to its own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there. I walk along defending myself to people, or exchanging repartee with them, or rationalizing my behavior, or seducing them with gossip, or pretending I’m on their TV talk show or whatever. I speed or run an aging yellow light or don’t come to a full stop, and one nanosecond later am explaining to imaginary cops exactly why I had to do what I did, or insisting that I did not in fact do it.”

Years ago, I mentioned the constant chatter in my head to David and he said something like, “Voices in your head? Doesn’t that mean you’re insane?” But it’s normal, isn’t it? The reason I’m mentioning it on Writing Wednesday is that I think it’s actually a useful thing for a writer. Occasionally out of all this mental blether, I get an idea for a story. In fact, the idea for the book I may be writing for NaNoWriMo this year (I’m not sure yet – I’m trying to choose between two) came out of exactly this kind of thing.

What about you? Do the voices in your head ever say anything useful?

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7 thoughts on “The voices in my head

  1. Not usually very useful stuff. I find my heart’s a lot more intelligent than my rabbiting thoughts. 🙂

    1. Your heart talks? Now that’s definitely insane… 😉

      Have you seen that ‘follow your heart’ advert that was shown during the Superbowl last year? Bit icky, but also very sweet.

  2. Of course it’s normal 🙂 But no, my mind-chatter is neither illuminating or useful I’m afraid!

  3. I have lots of chatter in my head. Sometimes it starts to get a bit too noisy. Whenever I’ve written in the past I’ve found that when it comes to dialogue I have the characters talking in my head and I just write down what they’re saying. I can identify with a number of the examples that Lamott gives.

  4. I am so glad I am not the only one. I get stories jumping into my head and the characters will not shut the bleep up until I write them out. That’s been the case with almost every flash fic story I have written.

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