Logan, our lovely pilot from last Friday, was very generous with information about the wide world of hot air ballooning. Despite how he made it look, it turns out that hot air balloon pilots have far less control over the balloons than you might think. In fact, there's no steering (other than being able to rotate the balloon on its axis) -- the pilots simply determine wind speeds and directions at different altitudes, and then raise or lower the balloon accordingly, all the while hoping that the winds haven't shifted or done something else unpredictable once they get there. For this reason, it's anyone's guess as to where the balloon will end up landing (and in fact, a group of conference-goers who decided to go on the hot air balloon the day after we went, ended up landing in the middle of a neighbourhood, frightening a few small children and alarming several homeowners).
This? This just sort of aimlessly looking for interesting-looking winds and seeing where it takes me? This has been my life lately.
Not that this is always a bad thing -- I'm a huge fan of being open to new experiences, and seeing what comes, without judgment. But the truth is that ever since I turned in the final edits to my book, I've been feeling a bit aimless, without any major project to work on or any serious goals to steer towards. And I need a project, people. I like A Project. And this constantly being distracted by any possibility that looks like Something Shiny is starting to work my last nerve.
But then yesterday, as I was daydreaming in my office, I noticed a vision board I'd done late last year, and in it, I'd included a mind map. It was one I'd drawn when I was trying to figure out what the subject of my book should be -- I was just putting everything down that came to mind that I thought might work, without censorship. As it turns out, the final product was almost a direct result of the ideas that came to me in that mind map.
I'm thinking it might be time to draw another. Because after all -- even with all their let's-see-where-the-wind-takes-us -- even hot air balloon pilots have maps.
Update: Several people have asked how to do a mind map. The following is a video that I found that explains the process pretty clearly. The concept is that mind mapping more accurately reflects how the mind works -- that we don't think linearly, but more spacially. Personally, I don't start with a central image (because I can't draw very well), but I do start with a central concept (the problem I'm trying to tackle, whatever), and then branch off with whatever ideas the central concept sparks. Also, I ABSOLUTELY use lots of colours -- usually I have a different colour I use for each main branch and its associated subbranches.
I hope this helps!