I have a swiss cheese brain. One moment, I’m logical and rational, working hard, organised, focused and asking myself intelligent questions about my WIP. The next minute, I find my keys in the freezer and I can’t remember my date of birth. I can’t think of the next sentence.

There are too many things to mention that could be causing the cotton in my synapses, but none of those things are going to change. I have learnt some cognitive coping mechanisms that help keep me on track with my writing, or even simple day to day tasks that need to get done.

I write at my best cognitive time of day, which ranges from late morning to early afternoon. It’s not the same every day, but when something in this brain of mine lights up, it’s time to use it while I’ve got it, so it’s not surprising for my family to see me tapping away on my keyboard at 2am.

I do small writing tasks, in small steps, breaking them into their simplest components. Sometimes, they are painfully tiny steps, sometimes strides, depending on the day. An entire books starts with one sentence.

It might not make sense to anyone else, but it works for me. I can’t write if my life is messy. I keep my info on the computer as much as possible and out of my diary and filing cabinet. I write everything down. Everything. I stop when I am overtired or in a flap. There’s no point to write for the sake of writing. I know I’m not going to accomplish anything beyond what I have already done so I put my laptop away, close my eyes and stop.

I take frequent breaks. Even when I don’t want to, I know I need to. I set a timer. When it says DING, it’s time to stop and go pick the kids up. No matter what.

If I try to reread and nothing is sinking in, I put it away for another day. I can’t force editing to happen. Not good editing, anyway.

I look stuff up. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Yay for Google. I don’t know what writers did for research in the dark ages.

Repetition works. If I get a great idea while driving, I say it over and over to myself aloud until I get a chance to write it down.

Pressure is not productive. I am thankful for the parts of my brain that work well and for the times I am able to think and write clearly. But, if today is not one of those days, I’m not going to worry myself about it. There’s a reason I’m not a brain surgeon.

Author Michelle Worthington