When You Need to Increase Your Mental Bandwidth

I don’t think I’m wired for the freelancer life.

Zach J. Payne
5 min readDec 5, 2019

I spent most of today trying to spark an idea for a post. Unfortunately, every time I had an idea today, it came to me as a line of iambic pentameter.

Now, of course, lines of iambic pentameter have their place. They’re really useful when I’m struggling to write a sonnet, especially during the challenge that I’ve been running most of the year. Most of my sonnets begin with just a line, something that I can build off of.

But a blog post? It’s hard to build a blog post off of a line of poetic text. At least, one that most non-poets would want to read.

My mind isn’t very good at moving from one thing to another.

When my brain is in novel mode, I will work on my novel for ten hours a day. I will get into the zone, and I will start typing away, my hands moving like lightning to keep up with the thoughts and the stories flowing out of my head.

When my brain is in poetry mode, I come up with poems. And even that’s subdivided. This year, I’ve written mostly sonnets — as in, 6 of the 120 or so poems I’ve written this year have not been sonnets. Because that’s where my thoughts are rolling around.

When my brain is in design mode, I work on design things. I’ll design book covers or do book layout, or make posters for friends.

And when my brain is on essay mode, the essays come out quick and easy. And they’re good essays, too. I do my best work when I’m fully in the zone, whatever zone I’m in.

And then I remember, I have to diversify.

It seems like people who are trying to hustle have to be working in all of the lanes at the same time.

I should be doing poetry every day. And working on my novel. And writing essays. And working on design projects. And probably trying to rustle up work on Fiverr and whatever other platforms are out there. And offering to transcribe music into Finale (which is, honestly, some of the most mind-numbing work in the world).

I should be able to hustle. If I want to be any kind of successful person without…

Zach J. Payne

(He/They) Poet. Thespian. YA Novelist.