I enjoy following a thought's emergence in my city of thinking and watching where they wander. Outside influences initiate and affect them. These are tributaries. Work with me, here. I have several main avenues of thinking. One, work, is a superhighway. Writing is another. Others are major highways and surface streets. Those surface streets are tributaries. New ones are always being built to help manage traffic flow (thinking, pressures, emotions, behavior, et cetera). Sorry, but I had to think through what I meant by tributary because I keep thinking of river and then I was thinking, water on my city's streets, say what?
Today's tributaries are courtesy of a Rachel Gardner newsletter, where she addressed "Making Stress Work for You". She notes that a brief piece on HBR blogs inspired the concept. The HBR blog wrote about Wray Hebert's article at Psychological Science, which led me to Hebert's blog and his post, "Tributaries of the Mind". Wray Hebert's second book is "On Second Thought", about irrational thinking and decision making.
Here is the Rachel - HBR - Psychological Science - Hebert blog connections
In "Tribitaries of the Mind," Hebert wonders about why humans have hobbies. In it, Hebert writes, "We all are constantly appraising our experiences, trying to make sense of what’s around us. But we size up the same experience very differently, depending on the knowledge we bring to it. "
That's precisely how I think about writing. What happened and why did it happen? What was this person thinking and how did that thinking turn into action? What was the result of their actions, what happens next, and what was the impact on other people? Of course, part of my process is attempting to turn the thoughts and behavior on its end, attempting to resist the usual paths of action & reaction, behavior and thoughts - and emotions - and putting it into words that compel people to read. As Hebert wrote about humans and activities, I'm trying to appraise the characters' experiences, trying to make sense of them. Each will do it differently, depending on their backstory.
Rachel's guidance on making stress work for you was thought-provoking, mostly because I'd not thought about applying that in writing efforts. Long ago, I recognize that I do best in stressful situations - the more stress, the better. My mind works fast and my emotions work more slowly. It's my emotions that often bog me down, injecting self-examination ad infinitum. My one weakness is my constant self-examination. My other one weakness is my self-doubt. Deadlines don't allow either. You must press, you must do, you must get done, you must move on. It helped me a great deal in my military career and less so in my writing life and civilian careers. Civilian companies work at a much slower pace than the military. Companies allow a lot more time, and if there is failure, they sort of shrug and say, "That was expensive." There's too much time to think and re-think.
My work around is to create deadlines in my civilian work. I keep lists of what I need to do, writing them down in a black and white lab notebook which I festoon with Post-Its and tabs. I look at my list each day and say, these are the things I must do today. Very few of them have fixed dates and times by which they must be done. Usually when there is a deadline to be met, I work on those first to get the deadline out of my way.
I'm more flexible in my writing. In some regards, I force deadlines on myself, such as my daily writing time: I have one to two hours of dedicated, focused time and I know I must use it or lose it, so I throw myself into it.
Where I fall short many times is afterward, when the story is done. There is no deadline, no goal of so many words per session, no drive toward 'The End'. The 'business side' of writing interests me less. Many times, I'll find a place to submit. If it doesn't get accepted, oh, well, I'm off to something else.
So that's what I really need to address. I have seven novels 'written' but only one has been edited and revised. I have dozens of short stories written but only half a dozen published and only three out there right now.
I'd recognized this throughout the past year but have failed to move into a plan. It's sort of like thinking about losing weight but then not taking any action. You see and acknowledge the need but then, man, that's hard. I don't wanna. Earlier this week, I vowed, ten days to edit and revise "Peerless". Doing that helped. I had to re-think my approach and quantify my needs, and that helped focus me.
There is constant danger of becoming obsessed and consumed. So as much as I love writing and reading, I need to address those other facets of existence casually branded 'modern America married life' - MAML. MAML has its own set of stresses and they are tributaries as well. I love several of those stress sources.
For them, there can be no deadlines.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com