Retraining the Psychological Writing Brain

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It’s been just under six months since I started writing for my livelihood, a foolish choice by most, since my savings and regular gigs were low and few. But, it was that or walk into the Snoqualmie Riverwith stones in my pockets.  Seriously, I could hardly stand another day in my former day-job life. However, that’s not what this blog post is about. No, it’s about figuring it out.

When I had *TSSDJ, I had to carve out time for writing. The muse and desire would build up so fast and so strong that when I sat down to write, it would come spilling out – erupting, if you will, like a formerly dormant volcano. It seemed easy.

Now that writing is the focus, I struggle more. I have found that my time at the keyboard is much more difficult. I have to squeeze that last bit of story much like getting the last dose of toothpaste from the tube. I have to massage and work it from the bottom of my writing soul on up to get it to dribble – and yes, often times; it’s a dribble – out.

When I discuss this with some of my family and friends – both writing and non-writing types – they give me all kinds of advice.

“Go take a walk.”

I do that. My dog and I walk almost every day.

“Go volunteer.”

I’ve been volunteering for years.

“Go read.”

Reading is part of my daily schedule.

“Just write, don’t worry about if it’s no good.”

Revision is part of my writing life.

“Go get another day job.”

What? Go get another day job? But this is my day job.

All of this gives me pause. I reflect. I inspect. It makes me wonder if it’s psychological. Is it purely an example of psychological reactance? I couldn’t have the writing life when I had TSSDJ. Therefore, when I had a moment to ‘pretend’ I was a writer, I actually was. My attention was heightened. I paid more attention to my creativity much like you pay attention to the donuts, potato chips and nachos when you’re on a restricted diet. My writing time was scarce, so my perception was that it was precious and I relished it. Almost as if the writing time was a one-of-a-kind item on Etsy. You pay attention; you give over resources without question just to have it. You are like a competitive gamer giving up sleep to reach a new achievement.

Now, however, there’s a voice in my head that says, often, and with which I must battle daily, is that I may focus on other things than my writing because I can write whenever. The genuine artist in me scoffs and forces my butt in the chair…most times. But that part of me doesn’t always win, and I spend the day focusing on rearranging the kitchen cupboards or reorganizing my scarf drawer. Oh and the Internet. How it distracts me; fortunately not more than any other project (like Yule present making I have to focus on soon). I can find so many things to do but write.

At this moment, I’m not sure how I’m going to retrain my brain to go from wanting to be a writer because I can’t do it to understanding I am a writer and I need to write to actually be one.

This article in Forbes magazine reminded me why I wanted to do this. Author as a profession is one of the happiest on the planet. My inner and outer happiness depends on writing and that’s why I turned my world upside down to live a writing-focused life. Getting to author, however, is a long hard climb. Those who know me personally know I’ve never done much in my life the easy way. I’m cursed, what can I say? It gives me things to write about, for sure.

The awareness alone of realizing I’m playing these mind games with myself is part of the solution. Yet, beyond that I’m not sure how to retrain my creative muse to overflow the words and stories like before when that wasn’t my sole focus.

Stick with me and you might find out how I figured it out. Until then, I must go write, drip, leak, trickle or slop and spatter. It must come out.


*The Soul-Sucking Day Job

You are an excellent writer, and always have been. You have received the accolades that support that statement. Perhaps its not the writing as much as the subject matter. Does it inspire? What do you love to read? Lovecraft? King? Nora Roberts? Do you prefer shorter script vs longer? I had a book many years ago that was based on short, short stories, similar to that challenge you posted a while back. That was what inspired me to write that post in return. I loved that book and can’t find it anywhere. What turns you on? I’m sure its not the kitchen cabinet! As for the internet, I understand. Unplug it or set a timer.

Just some thoughts for consideration.

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