I am at this moment a fool for detoxing. I’m doing a three-month heavy metal detox (under doctor’s supervision—don’t try this at home) and, at the same time (because why not), a detox designed to clean out my gut and make it healthier. I’ll spare you the gory details of it all, other than to say that I’m feeling great—lighter and more energetic.
But all this emphasis on detoxing my body got me to thinking, as I do, about detoxing the mind. Specifically, the writer’s mind. And that led me to think about our writing habits, good and bad. And I realized that while I’m detoxing my body, I might just as well be detoxing my mind and my writing as well. So here’s what I’ve been thinking about. Maybe these new habits will be helpful for you, too.
- Shed the negativity. We all do it. Whine about how hard it is to write, to get published, to make a career out of writing. All of those things are true—and yet sometimes writing is fun, new people do get published every day, and many, many authors make a career from their words. So why not buck up and think about the positive instead?
- Let go of what Brene Brown calls confabulating. These are the “dangerous stories we make up,” like, “I’m not creative,” “I’m not lovable,” “I’m not good enough to be a writer.” We all have our own particular confabulations. What are yours? Uncover them and eradicate them.
- Ditch adverbs. I really, really, really love me an adverb. Yes, I do. Really. Okay, I’ll stop now. Most writers will tell you to never ever use an adverb. I’m not a fan of blanket rules like that, so you won’t hear that from me. But I do advise caution in using them because they weaken sentences. Even if you do like them, like me.
- Get rid of flab words. One of my favorites is just. Another is that, or but. I’ve got lots of them. How about very? Another way to ditch the flab is to eliminate unneeded words, and quit hedging your bets (seems like, could be).
- Resist perfectionism. That is, until you are going through your manuscript for the very last time before sending it out. Then you want to be picky. But before that, don’t stop and obsess over every word. You’ll never get a draft done that way, and besides, its torture.
- Stop procrastination. Who, me, procrastinate? Never. But I do hear that lots of people have this problem, so in the interests of fairness I will mention it. When I start procrastinating hear of people having trouble with procrastination, I remind them of the phrase: Use yourself up. Use all of yourself up. Because that’s what we want to feel when we die, right? Like we’ve used every last bit of ourselves up.
- Ditch your addictions. For the record, I do not consider my nightly glass of wine an addiction because I am old and I deserve my wine. But I will admit to an internet addiction. As in constantly looking at my inbox, waiting for the rush of new emails coming in. Or always eyeing my phone, ever alert for the next notification. Lately I’ve been engaging in the radical act of leaving my phone on the charger in the kitchen most of the day. Much less distracting.
So those are my thoughts on what I want to detox for my writing life. How about you? Any ideas on things you’d like to let go of? Please comment below and let us know!
Photo by MeiTeng.