Friday, May 27, 2011

Stop "Should-ing" on Yourself

"Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are."  Chinese Proverb

We are, each of us, on our own journey.  We are who we are-nothing more, nothing less. Should-ing on ourselves only serves to create tension and anxiety.  How much creative energy is lost when our peace of mind is in vapor-lock, overheated by what we think we ought to be, comparing ourselves to those around us?

Yes, should-ing is another thinking error, one we would do good to avoid.  How do we do that, you ask?  Acceptance is the kryptonite of should-ing.  We can tell ourselves, “This is where I am today, and this is what I am doing to get where I want to be tomorrow.”  Goals are set to give a destination to our lives, but we must recognize that the path getting there may be different than what we expect.  Flexibility and acceptance of our personal journey can restore our peace of mind, and then, we can once again be relaxed, creative and happy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Writer Thinking Errors

Thinking errors are statements we tell ourselves that are not true and/or based in emotion.  If you're human, it is likely you will have at least one thinking error.  We are programmed from birth to listen to the "shoulds" and "always" and "nevers."  It seems to me that two particular thinking errors trip up writers, or any other person who wants to share their art with the world.

The first is the notion that "I know what you are thinking, and it isn't good."  In everyday life, it's when you walk into a room, perceive everyone is looking at you, and decide that they must be thinking your new haircut looks stupid.  For a writer, it's the nasty voice living in your head, telling you that you might as well give up because no editor, publisher or agent will ever think your work is good.  It's why rejections are so tough - and form rejections even tougher.  They leave more room open for Nasty Voice to say "If the story was anywhere near good-enough, they would have said something."

The second is "I know the future, and it is sure to be bad/good."  Tricky, this one.  It has two sides.  My demon is the first.  Nasty Voice says, "I don't know why you're wasting your time.  Look at your kids over there, all happy-but you still aren't playing with them.  Don't you know how tortured they are going to be when they grow up because you wasted all that time writing instead of being right by their side.  You'll never get someone to publish/buy/read your story, anyway.  So you might as well quit."  Talk about robbing the writing process of it's fun.

The other side, where the writer is convinced the future is good, can create complacency and foster an "I am the Writer" type of attitude.  The writer doesn't need to learn or work, because they know it all, already.  In a highly competitive field, that is career suicide.  It also leads to a rotten attitude that puts others off.

What to do?  The first thing we have to do is identify that we have "stinkin' thinkin'."  We have to recognize that the whole writerly world is not out to get us, and hold us down.  And then, we have to look for the facts.  This is where goal setting is helpful.  By creating attainable goals, and reaching them, we have something tangible to show Nasty Voice when it starts flapping it's gums.

One more thing -- we have to talk back.  We have to get an attitude and tell Nasty Voice that it doesn't know everything.

We work hard.

We remind ourselves our chances of having our stories published are as good as anyone else's.  And, we just keep writing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Short and Sweet

In the interest of time, I have decided to be brief, and let two quotes say it all today.

The first, from Nicholas Murray Butler, states "Optimism is the foundation of courage."

The second, from Usman B. Asif, says "Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop."

So, turn the light on and don't let those negative thoughts develop.  Take courage and keep hope in your mind, freeing it to be creative and peaceful.  Continue to dare to dream.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

How Clever Am I?

I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.  Oscar Wilde
Ever have one of those spells where inside your head everything is crystal clear?  With eager anticipation of the pearls of literature that are going to flow through your keyboard onto the computer screen before you, the typing begins.  You take a break.  You read over the last two hours of hard work.  You think to yourself, I wonder what the hell THAT was supposed to mean.

Somehow all the clarity got lost in transition from brain to computer, and you can only assume that confusion would continue on to the reader.  I have been experiencing this phenomena for the last two weeks.  When I do finally get an opportunity to write, I can't seem to make a sentence that is understandable, much less great dialogue or description that grips.

What causes this to happen?  Wish I knew.  I suspect, though, that fear might be lurking in my creative recesses.  I have never gotten so far into writing a novel, and the uncomfortable feeling of driving without a map has settled in.  Writing has proven to be a wonderful, empowering and frightening process.  I have had to learn to let go of the creative reigns time and again, and trust the process.  I guess now is one of those times.  Deep breaths.


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