Tuesday, January 31, 2017

5T Tossup--Is your writing letting you down? A dozen quick fixes to manage the thinking life (in three easy steps)

As an author, I make my money by thinking. Luckily for me, I grew up in a family that valued thinking. Also I have the great good fortune to be married to a thinking man, although we sort of were the only ones to understand each other, lol.

The problem happened after college, when I we both were launching our careers and our family. The time to think shrank with each new obligation. Don't get me started on what happened with the kids entered school.

Now I've had experience both as a thinker and a doer. What have I learned?

There are three things you must do to maximize any job that requires thinking.

1) Minimize anxiety.*

The reason I started writing this today is because of a task I've given myself--sending an introductory newsletter to general signups from a party. Basically, I'm cold calling a preselected list. Some people relish a challenge like that, but I have a tendency to start a joke with the punch line ("Only one, but that light bulb really has to want it!"), laugh, and then wonder why nobody joins in. (Oh, yes, the set up: "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?")

Four of my favorite quick-fixes to minimize anxiety are:
  • Meditate.
  • Exercise/confident body postures (the Wonder Woman pose).
  • Limiting myself to the FIVE TOP JOBS that need to get done today.
  • Tackling a job I know how to do. 
This post is an application of point four. I know how to write. This blog is easing my anxiety so I can think about how best to approach all those new readers.

*Something I didn't realized before, but anxiety in the thinking life includes too much NOISE and too much DISTRACTION. "Too much" is different for different people of course, and even different for the same person at different times or under different circumstances.

2) Minimize boredom.
We all write a scene that we can't stand. Or get sleepy because we're uninspired by our characters or plots. Bored by same-old, same-old, we can't even scare up the energy to try to think up something new to inject.

Favorite quick fixes:
  • Cut off bad bored habits (mine is clicking through game after game of Spider Solitaire, until my eyes bleed)
  • Ninjas!
  • Reminding myself my husband is working, and by darn, I'd better be working too.
  • Mixing in new projects on a regular basis

3) Maximize time in flow.
Starting quicker and easier gives us more actual productive thinking and writing time. If you've set the stage with #1 and #2, you should find your thinking time goes easier. But how do you get into and out of it best?

Favorite quick fixes:

  • Mood-setting behaviors. For me, I try to chew on ideas in my morning shower. Another way I get into the swing faster is by re-reading and editing the scenes I wrote the day before.
  • Mood-setting environment. For me, it's scent. Maybe yours is a character sound track.
  • Know your rhythms and work with, not against them. I hate to admit it, but I work best from 7:30 am to 10:30 am.
  • Leave yourself a hook. End your writing period before you're exhausted, and leave yourself some little cue about where you're going next. An exciting cue. HOOK YOURSELF like you'd hook your reader.
Does it work? Well, this is January 16 as I write this, and since January 1 I've finished a novella and am a third of the way through editing a novel. Plus I'm promoting a major box set release. And best of all, I've started my cold call newsletter intro.

**Thanks to my husband Gregg for constantly posting links to articles on consciousness

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