Monday, July 14, 2008

The nation of procrastination

When I'm stuck in a story, and I mean stuck up to the waist in gloppy boot-sucking mud, you'd be surprised at how hard I work to avoid getting unstuck. I'll do just about anything not to have to come into my office and face the keyboard.

I usually start off with cleaning. Understand this, I hate cleaning, so for me to voluntarily start bustling around cleaning up, something is wrong. I don't do the big picture cleaning though. At times like these, I go for the meticulous deep-cleaning chores. For instance, I'll take down the globes from the overhead lights and wash them. Or I'll get out the toothbrush and the cleanser with bleach to sanitize the shower grout. Once I even put the soft brushy thing on the vacuum hose and sucked all the dust off the blinds. (I didn't like this as much because of the noise.)

I can also get the same benefit from an arts and crafts session. Anything creative works, whether its adding pre-cut foam flowers to a fun-foam picture frame, or creating a story collage, or decopauging a tray. The more meticulous the work, the better off I am.

Why, you ask? Because keeping my mind and fingers busy with one task engages part of the brain, but the other part keeps running behind the scenes, solving the problem. Whatever my degree of stuckness in my story, doing something meticulous clears my head and allows new ideas to emerge.

As an aside, I've been reading about psychics and healing lately as research for my upcoming psychic sleuth. There are different levels of brain activity, as determined by brain rhythym cycles per second. Adults most of the time are in Beta phase which is conscious of the physical world. Other phases include delta (unconscious), and alpha and theta (sleep). Many psychics are able to tap into alpha when they are awake, which is more related to the inner or spiritual world. Though I don't claim to be psychic, it seems that the meticulous busy work I use above to engage my outer consciousness, frees up my inner consciousness to work on the problem. I sort of hypnotize myself into alpha-mode and the writing problem works itself out.

Now you know I'm a total whack-job...

Maggie Toussaint

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