Sunday, September 18, 2016

Into the Doing

You can't escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. - Abraham Lincoln
There is no perfect time to write. There is only now - Barbara Kingsolver

Birds don't do it. Bees don't do it. Even educated fleas don't do it. People find ways to do it all the time. For human beings that not doing equals  .  .  .  Procrastination! 

Blame it on the prefrontal cortex that has the responsibility for complex cognitive behaviors and decision-making. The word that causes stomachs to churn comes from Latin -procrastinatus. Pro - forward and crastinus - of tomorrow. Avoid today what you can defer until tomorrow. 

What happens in the writer's mind to prevent the word flow? Most of the time it centers around frustration and fear. The product appears more important than getting there. 

All of a sudden nothing happens. Anxiety takes over.
In Taoist literature a concept exists called wei wu wei. It translates "doing without doing." With writing, a conscious need to achieve presents at every moment. It often interrupts the process. 

When one relents and flows into the doing the anxiety clears and a deeper wisdom takes over. The mind and body create together without the angst about outcome. 

How to get there?

Writers need a form of exercise to direct and train the mind, spirit and body. Runners, bicyclists or those who practice yoga, understand the "flow" that occurs when mind and body dissolve into movement.

One step at a time, one pose into another, one revolution of the pedals and process takes over. The breath assists to create a rhythm and the brain releases chemicals to drown the frustration and fear.

Translate this to writing. 

Einstein talked of  "combinatory play" which opens up one mental channel by dabbling in another.  He played the violin when he could not solve a mathematics puzzle.  After a few sonatas, he had an answer.  Try creative procrastination.

Regardless of your mood, pick up the pen or tap the keys. Explore your relationship to writing. Discover what to say while writing to say it. The mental uncertainties will clear and you will move deeper into the experience. Suspense energizes and will reveal meaning.

For writers, the behavior becomes more complex in the initial stages of a writing project. A focus on result gets in the way. 

If a push for the goal happens too soon, one misses the discoveries of ideas and new directions that weave into the ongoing process. 

Staying in the Doing and creative meandering of the project keeps motivation flowing and provides thrills. 

Humor lubricates the attitude. Find something to chuckle about.

Creativity provides techniques and ways to trick the mind to push past reasons to avoid writing. 

Discover ways to bridge the gap between idea and result.

Idealism and perfectionism become untrustworthy partners. Know when to relent and strive for excellence instead.

Try a freewrite to examine your behaviors:

Take a look at your habits of delay in all areas of life when deadlines loom or undesireable tasks confront.

How do you deal with inconsistencies?

In what ways do you defer actions to cope with anxiety of starting or completing a task?

Do deadline pressures and guilt increase your motivation?

What does apprehension feel like in the body?

How do you define failure and recognize its effectiveness in accomplishing a goal?

What benefits do you gain by delaying behaviors?

How does time management factor in your choices?

What reward system do you use to get the job done?

When you feel like avoiding the next pressing confrontation in life, write about how you will accomplish it within a time limit. 

What troubles you the most about writing? Spend time in exercise, then return to the paper or keyboard. Write for 15 minutes without stopping.

Take a Break!

Move away from troubled work that doesn't respond. 

Free yourself from life's frustrations with a creative procrastination break in writing. Write a letter.

Doodle across the page with the word - Write.

Find other words that replace write and keep going. Wring. Wings. Wonder. Wow!

Once in the flow, only stop when you feel the amazement. Then you will want to return to capture the joy once more.  

When to begin?  Write now!

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