Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writing Prep 6 - Decluttering Your Brain

Putting yourself in front of the keyboard doesn't automatically put your brain into your writing space. Good (and bad) conversations may still be running through your head. There may be the lure of a donut or the worry of a bill. You may have aches and pains of the body or the heart.

Distractions that are in you mind may be the hardest to counteract. One reason why I like to write first thing in the day, to begin by completing yesterday's sentences, to cue myself by setting a timer, and to put on (wordless) music is that these provide rites of passage from the mundane world to the world of my imagination.

But it doesn't always work. Reality can be pretty intrusive. This is why I have brain decluttering exercises in reserve. If you have the same problem, you might want to give them a try:
  • Make faces at yourself. No. I'm serious. Go to the mirror and change your expression to one that is intense. I understand that smiling actually releases chemicals that make you happy. Frowning, scowling, sneering, or looking wide-eyed in amazement seem to have similar effects. Make a face, and you will feel something different. This pulls you away from the distraction in your brain. For extra credit, put the look on your face that you imagine your protagonist has.
  • Take a deep breath and clear your mind. This is classic, and it becomes easier with practice. Meditation lowers your blood pressure, too, so you get a bonus.
  • Get it all on paper. Force yourself to write out everything that is whizzing around in your mind. I call this the chocolate sundae solution because a friend of mine used a similar technique when she was dieting. If she felt an overwhelming urge to eat a chocolate sundae, she would eat sundaes until she had an aversion to them. This is a twist on Oscar Wilde's quote, "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself."
I will point out that I don't count ANY of this as my writing time. Do that, and you face the risk of decluttering until the timer goes off. You don't want to lose a day of writing this way.

How to you declutter your brain?

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