The writer’s brain can play tricks on you. At least mine does. It has a lousy memory. And it skews toward the negative when it is recalling things like the quality of my work.
As in, I think about a story I’ve been working on and groan. It’s so bad, I think. It will never be published. Why did I ever think I should be a writer? And on and on. Sometimes it takes a supreme effort to force myself to open the file.
And when I do, I’m surprised. Because the writing—and the work in general—is so much better than I remembered it.
My writer’s brain also forgets things like my best practices. I’ll wander past a blog espousing the importance of a detailed outline before starting a novel and I’ll panic because I don’t have one. Then I stop what I’m doing and begin working on one. Until I remember that writing those sorts of outlines don’t work for me.
Or, I’ll get excited about an idea and launch into working on it, forgetting that it works much better for me to get to know my characters and create a loose (and by loose, I mean very loose) list of scenes before I start writing.
I’m not the only one who does this. Case in point: a couple days ago, I was working with a client. I’m helping her with a memoir, the events of which took place nearly 20 years ago. She’s mostly characterized herself at that time as continuously crying, lost, powerless. But then she found the journals she wrote back then and a different story emerged. She was devastated by what happened, yes. But she also took practical steps to change her situation and responded to the unthinkable with love and compassion.
Our brains tend toward the negative, that’s all there is to it.
But recently I remembered something I read. Where and when is lost in the mists of time, and why it popped into my brain now is anybody’s guess. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.
It’s this: think the best thought you can.
As in, think the best thought you can at any given moment. Think the highest thought you can muster.
Writer’s brain, I’m looking at you! Think the best thought you can about your writing. We can debate endlessly whether thoughts are things. I happen to believe they are. But even if you don’t, I still think you ought to make a practice of thinking the best thought you can about your writing. Because why torture yourself? Doesn’t it feel better to think good thoughts than bad? Do dark thoughts make you write better or faster or different?
No, probably not. Instead, they likely make you write slower. Or not at all. At least that’s how my writer’s brain works. One whiff of negativity and poof! I’ve got an excuse not to write.
So I’m working on thinking the best thoughts I can—in writing and in life.
Leave a comment and tell me your best thoughts about your writing. For real! Do it! I may be a bit slow in answering, as I’ll be off on a writing retreat in a remote corner of Oregon that I hope to God has decent wi-fi.
Things of Note
Medium articles from the week:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Just finished this one. I enjoyed it—and skimmed it a little, too. This is the second book I’ve read from this author and I notice she uses a lot of dialogue—sometimes page after page of it. It’s good, and easily readable, but also easy to skim.
The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. Still working on this one. As seems to be my habit, I go all in for a book, even though I read several at a time. At the moment, I’ve been all in for the novel. I’ll definitely get back to this, though.
Here’s my ko-fi, where you can buy me a cup of coffee or any kind of drink you’d like (so far it has been running toward wine). Thank you in advance for the treat!
Novel-Writing Workshop—I’m also teaching at the Sitka center on the Oregon coast this June. This is a beautiful location conducive to learning and writing. Click here for more info.
France 2019—Come to south of France with me! Find all the details here. We already have a number of people committed, so sign up soon.
And of course, don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. I post lots of good links and often we get some good conversation going.
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