Imagine that you're at the controls of a stereo equalizer, a nice model with lots of sliders to help you modulate treble, bass and midtone sounds. And just for fun, let's imagine that this equalizer has special powers, and it's sole purpose is to help you determine how intently you'll experience certain stimuli in your environment.
You get to decide how much you perceive all the "stuff" happening in and around you right now:
- the sound of the neighbor's kids playing outside,
- the memory of the perplexing conversation you just had with the editor (and the email you still need to write to clear it all up),
- the leftover thrill you feel when you recall the awesome novel-writing session you had this morning,
- the sight of the dirty dishes somebody left in the sink
You get to decide how intently you perceive this stuff? Wow, what an opportunity!
So what do you think: which thoughts and sense inputs serve your writing life well today?
I'm guessing the good stuff does:
- the quick glimpse of your first acceptance letter, still framed on your wall after all these years
- the excellent feeling of staying on task for just a few more minutes
- the email you can draft right now (draft, not agonize over) to clear up a miscommunication
- the 5 minutes it'll take to do the dishes and get on with your day
We writers are sensitive folks, and I definitely don't mean to oversimplify "get on with it." But there's something to be said for being as choosy as we can about what we react and respond to. Most of the time we're better served by reserving the bulk of our energy for writing rather than getting too caught up in negative stuff we can do nothing about.
Use this technique to simplify your writing life and free yourself up to focus on writing what matters most.
Practice asking yourself "is it worth it?" the next time you feel overwhelmed. Take a moment to inventory and parsing out the various inputs you're receiving via your body, emotions and creativity. (This habit becomes easier with practice.) Suss out which inputs need reducing and refocus your attention on the signals you'd most like to boost.
Next, take one constructive action. You're one step closer to a simplified writing life.