Alone with My Thoughts

Sometimes it’s great to disconnect. No smartphone, no laptop, no streaming video, no TV, not even a radio tuned to a local station. There’s so much stimulation, so much information, competing media, and constant communications, that being out-of-the-loop is a pleasure. It’s also essential to creativity. It’s why so many people get great ideas in the shower. It’s a place & time of enforced disconnection.

That’s why, as sat in the sauna at the gym, my mind wandered to a new twist for the end of a short story. The ‘empty time’ was inspiring, because there was nothing else going on. I played with the ideas without the intensity of a keyboard at my desk or even a pen & notepad in my hands.

Another woman entered the sauna and I noticed that she was plugged into her phone. Wow! She took her phone into the sauna? Why?

I could, in my ‘let the mind wander’ state come up with silly or strange scenarios that would require her to need her phone during a sauna—she was studying for an important exam and reviewing a class lecture OR she was a conductor listening to a recording of a symphony OR…. But I suspected that she was just unable to put the device down long enough to disconnect with the outside world and reconnect with neglected pieces of her inside world.

When I’m writing—fiction and freelance—I take breaks because it helps me write. Sometimes I go for a walk. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I just go into the kitchen and cook. Soups and stews are particularly good for writing. It’s that semi-mindless chopping. The time it takes to sauté aromatics (onions, shallots, celery, etc.) and the slow transformation from disparate ingredients into a whole that is a good accompaniment to writing. I often solve writing problems when I’m in the kitchen and I return to the computer with a new approach, the right phrase, or simply with a refreshed attitude.

It’s also nice to have something to eat a few hours later.

It seems like it’s harder and harder to disconnect, to be alone with your thoughts, for even a few minutes at a time. I think this is bad for writers—and other living creatures, too.

Poaching pears in leftover prosecco.

Poaching pears in leftover prosecco.


  1. The number one reason I like spending time at my family property in Montana is there is still no cell phone service, not to mention no electricity or running water! Tuning into one’s self is become more and more of an artform these days in the midst of so many distractions.

    • Candy Korman

      I’m pretty sure that the lack of running water would be a little too much for me, but I get your escape from the overload!

      Tuning into one’s self is critical for writing and, I believe, it’s essential for the human brain. Movement (exercise, walking, dancing), meditation, sleep, and even relaxing massages only take you so far. The “empty” time in the shower (or another private spot) where one is alone with one’s thoughts is one of the things we need as much as food & water.

      Maybe a little time on Montana is just with the doctor (or editor) ordered!

  2. I love stream of conscious-ing in the shower too, but I’ve found that the very best place for switching off is in the garden. I find I have to do something – similar to your chopping – to disconnect my brain and just be for a little while. It’s amazing how beneficial lugging rocks around can be. It really does focus the mind on just one, physical thing because if you lose focus you can easily drop said rock on foot, and that hurts! lol

    • Candy Korman

      Gardening is very much like cooking! They both include a series of familiar tasks. You have to pay attention (or you drop a rock, pull a plant instead of a weed, cut yourself instead of a carrot, etc.) and you end with something practical & positive! …. In addition to TIME to think!