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Taming the Inner Field Mouse

Taming the Inner Field Mouse

If I want to know how I feel about something, I write it down.

My fickle mind doesn’t like sharing information on the spot — it’s more like a field mouse, scampering from topic to topic until I’ve lost track of my thoughts. Often, it will bounce through songs, dreams, and ideas within the span of a minute, leaving me to fumble around in its wake.

For a while, I tried to cage it, feeding it numbers and formulas, but it found ways to scurry through the bars. As I’ve grown used to its preferences, I have learned that my mind will pause for one endeavor: writing.

There’s something about scribbling down ideas, following a prompt or idea and letting the mind take it and dart away, that clarifies my thinking. I find that I feel most stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious when I haven’t been writing. My inner field mouse needs time to halt its constant scampering, and it only finds those moments when I pull out a pen and paper.

Sometimes it wanders on the page, but I’ll find a morsel of a theme glimmering through the dense scrawl of ideas. I may begin with a prompt, like a reflective and open-ended question, but often I will start writing and see where my mind leads. As I write, I learn about my beliefs — My mind unearths underlying insights and opinions that I didn’t recognize I held. Personal writing sessions are conversations with my mind, moments where I can stop seeing it as a pest and start recognizing it as a voice. As I write to myself, the ideas on the page clarify my letters and conversations with friends, providing me with the vocabulary and knowledge to put my thoughts into words.

Even annotating books helps me organize my mind. As I make notes in the margins of a story or article, I ask myself questions about the text, tying it into overarching themes and concepts. When I look back at my notes, I can follow my train of thought and recall the context in which I made those observations.

Writing organizes my thinking, guiding my inner field mouse into a reflective rest. When my thoughts feel scattered, vague, or disparate, I hesitate to let my mind wander alone — instead, I take up the pen.

Anna Dolliver is a junior studying Chinese and English at the University of Texas at Austin. An aspiring novelist and teacher, you will often find her wandering the shelves of a library, reading outside, or writing in rooms filled with windows. She is currently studying abroad in Taiwan; you can read about her experience at her blog, www.talesoftaiwan.com.
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