I love to write. I really do. Building, not just a story, but an entire universe, then populating it with interesting characters isn’t just my idea of a good time, it’s my obsession.
But sometimes it gets to be a burden. There’s so much going on, so many things that you know need to happen, so many directions to pursue and loose ends you need to keep track of so you can tie them up later, it just starts to weigh you down. When that happens, you need a way to clear your head.
When I’m dealing with a few tangled threads and just a little bit more chaos than I meant to create, I take a quick walk. There’s a wonderful two mile loop right next to where I live. It’s a long enough walk that I’m sure to get distracted and calm down, but not so long that I’m actually tired when I get back from it Just far enough to get the blood flowing.
But sometimes I’ve got more than tangled threads. Sometimes there are knots. Sometimes the strands I’m trying to weave together have been rolled in dirt and those stickers that I can never seem to keep from growing in the yard. Sometimes what I have isn’t just chaos, it’s anarchy.
When that happens, I play with numbers.
Now, let’s be clear, I’m not a mathematician, either by profession, or talent. But that’s the beautiful thing about prime numbers, you don’t need to be a mathematician to play with them. People have been trying to sort out prime numbers for centuries… actually, millennia. They are fascinating because they continue infinitely, but without reliable pattern… at least, not that anyone has discovered yet. Play with them long enough, though, and you’re sure to find something that looks promising. But pursue it at your own peril.
I’m currently pursuing a theory that involves a pyramid of numbers. So far I’ve written the pyramid out to 1680 digits, and dammit if I don’t need to write it out a couple thousand more.
It’s tedious and frustrating and mind bending, but by the time I’m exhausted from that, the unsolvable puzzles in my latest work have usually worked themselves out. And if they haven’t… well, they just don’t seem quite so insurmountable anymore.
What about you? How do you clear your head?