Do You Feel Prolific? Well, Do Ya?
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Prolific without Pain: Chillax Into Your Best Writing Ever
Joyful writing doesn’t come from sitting erect at a computer for hours or in a deadline pressure cooker. The conditions and environment you need to write with ease evolves through experimentation. Prolific without Pain: Chillax Into Your Best Writing Ever shows you how.
Anybody who has ever struggled with writing is thinking too much. Thinking leads to anxiety. Though each of us has our own brand of it, what creates anxiety in general is overwhelming ourselves with counterproductive thoughts. In writing we ruminate on the whole journey rather than focus on the moment in front of us: Should I publish? If so, how? Self-publish or find a literary agent? What will my mother, sister, husband, coworkers think? OMG, I can’t move to New York or Los Angeles! Who will design my book cover? We chew on perceived limitations: I didn’t go to college…I can’t spell…can’t type…somebody’s already done that... It will take me forever to finish…I’m not good at marketing. We dread pitfalls ahead: My girlfriend wrote an amazing novel and it was rejected 12 times…
Basically, we scare the crap out of ourselves.
Don’t Think. Relate. Befriend your writing.
Whether you intend to finish a chapter in a traditionally structured book, create a blog series or write a television script, simply visit your creation in the making like you would a neighborhood friend: Let the moment-by-moment interaction guide you.
Stay present with what is happening right in front of you each time you engage your writing. To further the neighborhood friend metaphor, dive into the energy between you and your playmate when you meet; no rumination about what happened at your last play date; no expectation about what will transpire in future ones.
Be a good friend. Listen to your writing vs. telling it what it “should be.”
Don’t Think. Play. Ask, “What if?” Experiment. Explore.
Play is an altered state of consciousness in which we’re relaxed. Receptive. New ideas engulf us.
Begin a writing session with no particular project in mind, say, a book, blog or research paper. Instead, wander toward whatever writing jazzes you in the moment. Planning on writing the final scene of your screenplay yet a poem pops up instead? Follow the poem. That’s how you play with writing.
Immersed in process with no attachment to outcome, we are open to what’s in front of us. We are willing to risk more, to view experiments as conduits for information, not wholesale failures. When we play, we discover because we allow emerging ideas, images and feelings to organically shape themselves.
Don’t Think. Daydream. Slip into meditative states, the relaxed openings to worlds below consciousness.
You see someone in the supermarket and notice that person is good looking. Or artsy. They may be from a culture different from yours that you find intriguing. You muse, I’d love to have dinner with him or her. You imagine a scene sharing a meal over delightful conversation. All the while you are daydreaming, your hand is checking the tomatoes to see which ones meet your purchase standards. You’ve just transported yourself to another realm.
Writing doesn’t come from nail biting, bloodletting or hunching over a screen. It is not a task to perform but a space to enter. That space is called, “trance.” Also known as a natural high, trance is an altered state of consciousness in which you are relaxed. Through this opening to organic discovery, you let go of control and allow whatever is occurring in the moment. Not only is there pleasure but also spontaneous clarity and insight into problems long grappled with.
Long-distance runners experience this state regularly. The term they use is “the zone.” Any rhythmic, large muscle group activity – swimming, cycling, walking – will induce it. Trance. Zone. Flow. We move in and out of these states all day long: distance driving, showering, listening to music, traveling in and out of sleep. It’s part of being human.
Don’t Think. Invite writing into your world.
It’s as though you are preparing your home for out-of-town guests. You want the guest bedroom and bath to be ready and welcoming. Usually that means tidying up. Buying extra groceries or the visitors’ favorite foods. Freshening the space with open windows, scented candles or air fresheners. Planning an itinerary that creates a sense of occasion.
Like out-of-town visitors, when the Muse (the conduit for writing ideas) feels welcomed, that you’ve anticipated her arrival and planned her comfort, she settles in and makes herself at home.
Let the Muse know that what she says matters: Be ready to take dictation with the tools of your choice. I have an author friend who is a rabid fan of mobile devices; she uses her phone notepad to jot ideas that spontaneously pop throughout the day. J.K. Rowling fills daily with handwritten notes, a giant white board in a hallway of her home. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame musician/songwriter Don Henley is “always jotting things down on pieces of paper. I’ve got pieces of paper all over my house,” he says. Ultimately, all my writing ends up in the computer. Before I reach that digital phase though, I plant mini notebooks in every corner of my world: bedside, kitchen and bathroom sink counters, scooter trunk, purse and belly pack.
The Muse often shows up at inopportune times: while you are driving, showering, running errands or awakening from sleep. To encourage her is to expect her, as you would out-of-town guests, and embrace her when she arrives.
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You can’t plan for a revelation
but you can do things to make it attractive for one.
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More inspiration for your journey to Prolific without Pain:
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Allow the things we encounter to set the terms [of scrutiny] rather than insisting that our own ideas and expectations should rule our experience.
Ian Bogost, Play Anything
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At first you do feel some tension because you are worrying about making mistakes. In my experience such feelings can continue for a half hour or more.
However, if you keep working, all of a sudden you slip into
a timeless space, where the work and you cease to be separate.
There’s only the work itself.
Andy Couturier, A Different Kind of Luxury
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Wherever you are is the entry point, and this is always true with writing.
Julia Cameron, The Right to Write
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Did Quentin Tarantino focus-group Reservoir Dogs?
Steve Pressfield, Do the Work
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When you cultivate conditions that attract
and honor the flow of new ideas,
you ease the trajectory of your writing.
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