Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scratchpad: Mindset

Part 3 of a three post series adapted from a project in an interesting (and free!) online course called "Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects" by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski.  I'd highly recommend it for anyone who likes to learn. If this is something you are interested in, there is a new class that start on January 3rd HERE. Or you can buy the book HERE.  

The last thing I want to tell you about is how important mindset is on making it easier to get work done.

1.      Focus on the PROCESS not the Product.

Don't think about the novel you are trying to write. Think about the paragraph or the scene you are trying to write. A paragraph, a scene... that's doable, even when the novel is stretching away from you like an impossible undertaking.

         2. Go through your checklist

Make a list of things or routines that help you get into the flow of writing. Pens or computer at hand? Appropriate story music playing? Glass of water or coffee at the ready? Phone turned off? Excellent. Now get writing.

3. Perseverance

Remember, you are in this for the journey and the long haul. Just focus on today's little piece and keep building on what you've learned and what you've written.

4. Stay Flexible

Things may crop up that prevent you from getting the work done, or a character may become decidedly uncooperative with the direction you are trying to take the story.  Staying flexible helps you roll with the punches.  Here is a great post by Veronica Roth on not letting yourself get derailed unnecessarily because the story just won't roll itself out according to plan.

5. Switch on the "Cool Dispassion"

Often the voices/internal monologue going on in our heads is not as supportive as we would wish. This may lead us to doubt our capability or focus in pursuing a writing project. "This writing is terrible." or "What was I thinking when I started climbing this impossible mountain?!"  There is also the frustration that comes with working on a project that seems to have no immediate benefit.  

Turn on the dispassion and don't let these voices sidetrack you from the work you are doing. Refresh them with the truth. You are writing because it is something you want or need to do. You are unique. You bring something to the page that no one else does. It may not be clear yet what you it is you are trying to say or what the connections you are making will turn out to mean, but that is okay.  Keep plugging away. Be proud of the steps you have already taken.  Be  confident in the steps you are taking as you move forward.