Freedom and fireflies

Re-discovering childhood wonder (and stuffing it into your writing)

The other day, I was on a ref pack job. So, I pencilled in a long lunchtime walk instead (only joking: it was a Veeva job).

WHAM! Out of the blue, it took me by surprise, like a U-boat at a kids’ swimming pool. I had a thought. Do you remember the last time you felt lost? Not lost in a foreboding, unpleasant sense – but lost in thought, watching the night sky and its endless tapestry of stars; cosmic light marches endlessly on (even after the death of the suns that birthed it). 

There is an unmistakably childish reminiscence that seems to displace me from time when I take a minute to reflect and ponder; perhaps I’ll observe the distant treeline and picture exploring lost woodlands with my brothers. Or, maybe I’ll wonder what’s beyond the houses I can see through my window. Is it a part of town I’ve never been before? What secrets lie just beyond my reach?

That feeling of exploration: it’s what suddenly hit me on my recent walk. So, I cultured it. I allowed my mind to meander aimlessly, and I brought that mindset with me back to my home office. Guess what? Those internal initiatives waiting on my eye were polished in seconds; the ref pack job was done and dusted faster than I’d have hoped for.

Our galaxy (or part of it), in all its glory. The night sky is an endless – possibly quite literally – source of inspiration for us primates.

Writing is an act of creation; and so, it’s an act of will – a rebellion against the entropy that would steal meaning from a universe programmed for disorder. You need the willpower to create something from scratch. I’m a firm believer that creativity is an essential element of any writer’s job – even, nay, especially, for medical writers. Even when we have a job that could strike the average person as slightly ‘mechanical’ (I’m sure we’ve sometimes thought that a robot could do that data check for us – though don’t get me started on AI writers; read about that here), a curious and inquisitive mind will no doubt navigate the ubiquitous complexity that resides unseen in these tasks, as well as – perhaps – even offer the client with some additional value (which is vital in a world where we need to stand out from the crowd as truly special writers).

This is why I’m advocating a daily ‘mind journey’ session. The objective is to nab that youthful feeling of curiosity, creativity and wonder from the back (or front) of your mind. It’s sitting there among your neuronal circuitry, just waiting to be unleashed and assist you in your daily tasks. Let it out!


To do this, we’re gonna need two things: a) music (preferably, with headphones) and b) a few minutes to close your eyes. Are you ready? Here’s what we’re going to do; follow along!

  1. Choose a song.

    I’d suggest something instrumental, like this. Even better if, like the tune I’m suggesting, we have something quite peaceful and thoughtful. I’m a fan of Adam Young (best known for Owl City); to me, his music captures that childhood feeling of nostalgic wonder – perfect for our exercise.
  1. Close your eyes and recall a pleasant childhood memory.

    With your headphones on, let’s close our eyes and drift away to a daydreaming state: a realm between reality and fiction, punctuated by the sights, sounds, and smells of the past. Now, here’s where the activity comes in. Are you immersing yourself in your pleasant memory? Pause. Let’s explore the scene. Imagine walking around it, interacting with it, and physically ‘touching’ it. Live in it for a moment.

Nope; don’t read any further, yet. Enjoy your mind journey.

Ready to continue? Repeat the above exercise daily, even if just for 5 minutes. Each time, explore the scene further, push the boundaries of your memory and come back to the present moment refreshed with a new sense of time, and what it means to experience. I can guarantee your writing will thank you for it.

Why? It’s somewhat reminiscent of that totally bonkers notion that one can actually alter one’s reality through ‘reality shifting’ (an idea born of TikTok – because, of course it was). Now, I’m not going to say that this is possible, but in a small, minor sense – I guess it kind of is. Through enjoying one’s memories, I think one can recall and harness the feelings embedded within.

I’ll just reiterate at this stage that I am (supposedly) a scientist, with a PhD and everything, and as such I can confirm that reality shifting is crackers, though. Sorry.


Need to tackle a particularly challenging technical brief? Visit a memory in which you smashed your PhD viva, bossed your BSc dissertation, learnt some new complex piece of information, beat an exam – or even passed your driving test. Wander around your memory and recall exactly what it feels like to overcome something intellectually. Hey presto, you’ve geared yourself for success: you’re in the right mindset.

Need to explore options for presenting clinical trial efficacy and safety data? Struggling to decide between a scrolling carousel and a static PDF, or thinking about the most impactful way to present some patient-reported outcomes? Perhaps recalling a time you physically explored a new place will help your mind prepare for tracking down the ‘right way’. Gandalf knew it in the mines of Moria: when in doubt, follow your nose (editor’s note: we’ve written about using senses to supercharge your writing creativity before; see the blog post here). I would follow that up by playfully scolding you (‘daft Hobbit!’), perhaps whimsically lashing out with a large wooden stave, also à la Gandalf, but that would be far too mean (and bizarre) for a blog post like this. Seriously, did nobody consider that everyday folk in the LOTR universe would see an old bearded chap whacking minors with a staff on an extremely long and dangerous hike for no apparent reason (remember: the Hobbits are ‘just children to their eyes’)? And Sauron is supposed to be the bad guy?

Anyway, that’s probably quite enough for today. The last mental trip I urge you to take is a quick road trip to Guitar Heaven. The gate is right here.

Catch you in the next blog post!