Monday, September 13, 2021

Cognitively Benign Writing Session

I am not sure if I have written about this concept before, but I talk to clients about it all the time. What an odd choice of words for an act that so many people have so many strong feelings about. Benign. Why not excited, happy, joyful? 

Well, these are great to experience, for sure, but each of them is dependent upon evaluations/judgments about how your writing session is going. If you can evaluate a session as good, you will judge other sessions as bad.

But to not judge, not evaluate the actual process and to just sink into it, allow oneself to just be in the writing and not judge the actual session as good or bad? That is what I am getting at: trusting the process, working on what we do and learn to not judge or evaluate it. In this sense, or sessions can become benign--we can sink into them and just write, without emotion, day after day. 

It really is possible. It really is a good place to be. It is not easy though--it takes a lot of work to get there.

Try to get there 😀

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Normal, Not Normal

I am having a day that feels almost normal. I drove up from Tacoma to spend a few hours in Seattle before dinner with a friend. Right now I am having wine outside in a "cute" neighborhood. I just had a focused half hour writing session that was super productive and stress free. I also cranked out 500 words of focused free writing on an article--not much work to clean it up either.

It has felt good to feel almost normal.  I have masked up, showed my vaccine record in my lunch spot that required it, and now, outside, I am without mask. It is nice, but I feel almost guilty. Shedding that will take some work.

I almost feel strange that I feel so relaxed, not worried at all about COVID at all. But it is there, in the background. It is going to take a long time to feel normal even when we go back to normal life, when, if...sigh....

Today, I feel grateful for a bit of normal, for the privileges that I have that allow me to enjoy the day.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

I Don't Hate Goals

At times, I give the impression that I am anti-goal setting. I really am not. What I believe, however, is that focusing too much on goals without clearly defining and then leaning into your processes rarely leads to good outcomes. Think about it--a goal in and off itself does not make you more creative, faster, a better writer, etc. You are what you are.

 Thanks Rich, captain obvious!!!!! 

But really, you are your awesomeness all the time--what you may lack are good processes that help you actualize yourself fully in a healthy and sustainable way!

Good processes are what help you actualize who you are and bring out the best of your work. Have goals, but then develop and master your processes that will help you attain them. In the moment of writing or creative work, allowing your goals to enter can lead to anxiety and tension.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Awfulizing: Brain Fog

One of my clients would tell me about his "Brain Fog" and attribute this condition to his problems with writing. He would describe his tired (and somewhat depressed) mood in great detail, and would catastrophize being a bit tired, unfocused and "down" by actually viewing it as a condition over which he had little choice and control. After a good deal of work, we were able to help him change that!

To help him start to view his "condition" in a new light, I referred to it as "San Francisco of the brain"--he found it funny, and this helped him be non-defensive as he started to realize that perhaps his "condition" was not something that he had no control over. This allowed us to craft a plan full of strategies for moving toward consistent morning writing: Self talk to help reduce his awfulizing and  challenge his expectations of what "Must" occur (I must be sharp and totally "on" to write), a few minute of exercise to help him energize, and rituals and habits to help him stay in process.

Overtime, he began to see "Brain fog" as something that he could write through, and that he had choices.

Monday, April 26, 2021

A Short Post on Awfulizing

I have written about awfulizing a good deal over the years. Awfulizing is the cognitive (thinking) error of making something more horrible than it actually is. It is not simply a matter of choosing strong language as a stylistic preference--the language we use stems from, and reinforces, core beliefs that lead to our feelings and behaviors (put in a rather simple way).

There are many awfulizing beliefs that academics hold that that lead to anxiety, self downing, and inertia. I am going to explore some of these in subsequent posts--stay tuned.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Saying No to Something is Saying Yes to Something Else

It is hard to say no. It is, perhaps, one of the most important skills that academics need in order to focus on what is most important to us. Without getting into the 1000 reasons we have for not wishing to say no, there are times we know we need to.

One attitudinal shift that makes it easier is to realize that saying no to something is saying yes to something more central to what and who we wish to be, or at least what we need to do. When we say no to something, we give ourselves back the potential time and energy that we would have used on the task in question. Channel your inner toddler. No...No...No...

Take that in. Feel it. Live it.