When the news hit the Gotham office that Carol Channing passed away, the first thing that President Alex Steele did was attempt an impression of her unforgettable way of speaking. Surprisingly, it was pretty striking.
Alex admitted that the secret to its success was that he had done the impression without thinking about it. And that got everyone here in the office thinking – what are some things that are better off done without the interference of brain waves?
Turns out there are a lot of things. Street and Alex both agreed that bowling is a prime example. The first bowl is often great, but each sequential bowl deteriorates as we over-think what made the first one so effective.
Dana, the Dean of Students as well as our in-house yogi, said that her balancing positions in yoga are always better when she isn’t thinking about them. Instead, she thinks about her breathing, and let’s her body take care of the balancing on its own.
Melissa, our Director of Communications and Events, said she is a much better dancer when drunk, AKA, when she isn’t thinking about it. Which I’m sure applies to pretty much anyone that isn’t a professional dancer.
For me, it’s typing. I type about 5,000 words a day and have no problem typing in the pitch dark, if need be. That is, until I stop and think about it. Then I look at the keyboard and realize that I have no actual clue where the keys are. Then the red-squiggly lines start appearing and I might as well be typing with my feet.
Our new intern Lillian said that baking was much the same. It can take hours to shape dough, and if you’re dwelling on it, the process can be tedious. But when she doesn’t think about it, it’s soothing and meditative—a richer overall experience. Hours would go by and before she knew it, she had a batch of perfectly-shaped bagels ready for baking.
So the big question is how Carol Channing, bowling and bagels relate to writing. Well, Lillian tied that all together—free-hand writing always seems to breed a freer start to a story than when you’re overthinking it, over-plotting it, trying to force the story into something it was never meant to be. When it happens organically, when the story is allowed to flow, it becomes something meaningful, and you didn’t even have to work that hard to get there. You just let the inspiration carry you to its logical destination.
Which is what the Write-In here at Gotham is all about – don’t think, just write. We provide a simple prompt, or a spark of inspiration, and your job as a writer is to let the thought form all on its own, with you merely giving it the means of taking shape.
It’s like what Ray Bradbury said— “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
And now we want to hear from you: What is something you do far better without thinking about it?