Kent Haruf’s Watch Cap

The late novelist Kent Haruf was said to write with a watch cap pulled down over his eyes. I’ve also heard of writers that only allow one line to be displayed as they write. Just tricks to quiet the monkey brain down a little as the writer writes their shitty first draft as fast as possible (h/t Anne Lamott).

After reading Joshua Foer’s ‘Moonwalking with Einstein,’ it occurs to me that Haruf wasn’t only blocking out what he has written, but blocking out his space. Foer reports that many memory athletes wore sound suppressing headphone or earmuffs, and glasses that blocked everything but the tiniest hole for viewing through. Foer used these techniques to prep for his upcoming memory competition. Forced focus. Because the memorizers used images to associate cards (King of Hearts = Barack Obama), they would close their eyes to help with memorizing.

It also sounds a little like meditation, only I should never force stray thoughts out — Tara Brach always says to be gentle. When she says to imagine the space between your eyes, my eyes are closed and I’m attempting to conjure up what that looks like.

Lately, I’ve been trying to clear distractions from my mind and my virtual space as I read. When stray thoughts come up, I let them exit, and then continue reading. I throw in a little Pomodoro 25 minute thinking sessions — also the most amount of time I can meditate.

The obvious progression is to go Haruf, but with headphones and goggles modified so I can only see the text in front of me. My new look will make a lovely avatar.

Kent Haruf’s Watch Cap

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