Is it just me, or do most off days seem to be Mondays? It’s strange, because my Sundays seem so inspirational. I spend time with my family and read for pleasure. Usually that reading leads to one or two “aha!” moments, in which I jot down the solution to a problem that’s been plaguing me for the past week or month or possibly even longer. This weekend was especially inspiring: I had all sorts of epiphanies while reading Carl Jung’s memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections. And I couldn’t wait to get back to my writing–couldn’t wait to see what all these new ideas were going to produce on the page.
But then Monday morning comes, and it’s like all the inspiration has suddenly left the building. My brain seems to know that now it’s time to work, to actually produce something, and it rebels. I do my best to force it. I sit it down at the desk, make it read over my writing from last week, and force it to give me some new sentences. Like a child at a school desk, its attention is drawn to everything but what’s in front of it. Over and over, I have to bring it back to the task at hand.
My willpower is such that I’m capable of making my mind slave for me for a good two or three hours even when it’s sulking and declaring how bored it is. Problem is, more often than not, the result of this mental coercion is lifeless. It’s like an essay written to satisfy a teacher–one of those you drop in the trash can as soon as it’s handed back with a grade. Nothing intrinsically compelling about it. No inklings of the inspiration that seemed so present the day before.
I don’t know what’s wrong.
But here’s a thought: maybe nothing is. Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong. Maybe this is just the way the mind is. Maybe it can’t jump straight from the relaxed, open-ended musings of Sunday afternoon into cranking out pages. I can imagine, in some ways, that my mind feels a bit taken aback by my insistence that, on Monday morning, it leap straight from flights of fancy to the structure of essay form. Here I had given it all this freedom, had let its leash way out so it could go in search of fabulous new ideas, and now I’m yanking it back, scolding it for not sitting still. No wonder it seems confused.
If this is the case, I may need a new Monday-morning technique. Rather than expecting that as soon as I sit down at the desk on Monday my brain will automatically revert to the state of mind it had when it was hard at work last Friday, maybe I need to coax it. Maybe I need some way to lead it gently from the unbridled creativity of the weekend back to its weekday focus.
Perhaps some warm-up exercises would help. Maybe something like writing a blog post? Or doing some free writing related to all the thoughts I’ve had over the weekend? All those inspiring thoughts may actually be a big factor in my inability to concentrate. If they’re all still milling about, my brain isn’t going to want to ignore them to focus on one little problem in one little essay I happen to want to get done today. Maybe writing down all those churning ideas would help put my mind at ease, let it know that it can come back to those ideas later, but for now, I need it to help me with something else.
It’s Monday, so I’m going to give it a shot.