I read an email from a life coach recently where he was discussing how we as human beings spend too much time ruminating about our past and not moving on. He urged those of us who read his advice to move out of the world of “should’a, could’a, would’as” and move forward. He compared the act of rumination to what cows do–chewing their cud over and over.
Not a pretty image, but good advice because we all have places in our lives that tend to stick to us like gum on your shoe and are just as hard to get past, and continually chewing on them only keeps them lodged in our heart.
He advised all of us to watch out for ruminating thoughts and move past them quickly, focusing on what is good and useful in our lives. Great advice, unless you are a writer.
You see, rumination is at the heart of what one does as a writer. I chew over stories for months, often years before I sit down to write them. To me, rumination is as important as the writing. I collect ideas for the plot from everyday life, I clip photos and bits from the newspaper that will, or in most cases, will not, go into the actual telling. All these pieces, fragments get chewed over, and over, and over until finally I decide whether or not to keep them.
So for me, as good as that advice is, I must ruminate. Chew on those characters and story ideas until all the pieces have had their chance to be weighed and measured, checked and chewed.
My family is used to me doing this—staring off into space, talking to myself–hands gesturing, lost in my own world. I’m currently starting a new story and doing lots of this. Pulling all the pieces that have been rattling around for over a year now and trying to pull them all together. This is when it gets fun.
Now I just need to work on the getting over the other things. The ones that hold me back. We all have those, and the letting go isn’t fun, but oh so necessary. So no more ruminating on things I can’t change (or can but have been too lazy to get to work) and move forward. At least that is what I’ve been thinking about.
Do you think ruminating in our personal lives holds us back? What are your strategies for moving on?