Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Not-So-Gentle Art of Self Manipulation

First off, let me just say that after reading Dina's previous post, I had to resist the urge to open this one by wailing about my writer's block...

 Don't try to break the writer's block, Neo.
 Try to realize there is no writer's block.

 Which, of course, there isn't. And I, of course, did not come off the holidays with a scorching case of it. What I did do was take my annual "I'm not going to do it and you can't make me" break.
 This is a whole different thing.

Today I wanted to talk about "know thyself." And since Dina did a perfect job of debunking writer's block, we're all caught up.
What I experienced was, as she put it, one of my issues. I get stubborn and burned-out. Everyone does. If you feel burned-out and resistant to write. You are in good company.

One trick to getting out of it (the funk not the company) is to know your currency. I've posted about currency before. As a parent, its a very big topic for me. Currency is like motivation but more manipulative. I believe when you're trying to motivate yourself, manipulative is the best sort of medicine. It's not the healthiest, if therapists can be believed, but it's very effective.

In parenting and writing, effective trumps healthy every time. We want results, and results come from knowing which buttons to push.

My button looks a lot like reverse psychology. If I tell myself, there's no point, your writing sucks, no one reads your stories anyway. No one loves you, you bad, bad writer. I know I will only sink into a deep depression from which only the very best chocolate can pry me. But if I say, "Maybe you can't do it. Maybe, you should just quit and take up spider breeding. I think spider breeding is your true calling and this writing thing was just a silly fad." I'll be writing before you know it. (and possibly browse some spider catalogs, but that's a different problem)

Reverse psychology works on me, but maybe distraction works for you. Maybe you need a shiny new story idea, or a new setting to write in.. Maybe you like bribes. A brand new pen or laptop might do it. Reassurance? A pat on the back and a comforting hug (which would only make me feel pathetic and spiral deeper into depression.) might be the remedy you need.

The thing is, humans are very predictable creatures. We have patterns within our patterns. And we are very easily conditioned. I think, even more easily trained than fleas. (which take the scientific booby prize of being the most easily conditioned critter around) If we pay a lot of attention to what works and what doesn't, we can come up with a pretty solid formula for success.
It just has to be tailored to our buttons.

Learn your buttons. Map your patterns and not just writing but everything can get a lot easier.
They're hard to see from inside a funk, though. So wait till you're fresh enough to see clearly. Then, get a big picture view, look at past hiccups, and find the repeating cycles.

Write them down. Remember.

That's probably the hardest part. Remembering to think about your patterns when you're neck deep in them. Still, if its on paper somewhere (maybe taped to your forehead) it's hard to deny for long.
Even if what you need to spiral back up again is just time, knowing that can make the waiting more productive. I agree with "writers write". But if your issues have you on "hiatus" you can still be planning how to get writing again. You can be working. You can be productive. If you just aren't writing now, you can still be plotting, editing, blogging...doing.

The point is, do what it takes to get you writing again. Motivate, manipulate, bribe, whatever, but keep in mind that we want results.
No whining...unless whining will make you write. No self abuse...unless that's the ticket to you making words again. Maybe you can't write non-stop forever, but the goal is definitely to write as soon as possible.
And that's my moral. If it doesn't get you writing, STOP IT.
If it does, who am I to judge?

Write on, MacDuff.

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