Writers’ Anxiety: Less Prozac, More Presence

'Tian Tan Buddha at Lantau Island' photo (c) 2011, Chun Yip  So - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m no guru. I love an evening cocktail (and then another), love the tingling chemistry coaxed by a chocolate bender, and sit entranced in front of artificially charged television dramas. I’m too much of a skeptic to go paleo, give up the gluten, or free my coffee of caffeine. So I’m not one to offer anything that smacks of spiritual advice, because I fear the sound of a duck quacking in the background.

But I’m comfortable discussing some of the vagaries of my writer’s mind, because some of those windmill tiltings might apply to you as well. My little cerebral workshop has been pervaded by a flavor of low-level anxiety and mild depression since my adolescence. Because writing has been important to me from that time on, I’ve cleverly assigned some of those mind leashes to dog my writing. These are the kinds of genial processes by which you look at a sentence and declare, “Ugh, that’s a terrible sentence.” Because the mind is generous with these offerings, if you’re me, you immediately jump from there to, “Ugh, I’m a terrible writer.”

Repeat these self-skewerings enough times, and they become a habit, a whisper in the head, an internal magnet that softly pulls.

Repeat these self-skewerings enough times, and they become a habit, a whisper in the head, an internal magnet that softly pulls. Anxiety itself can become a habit, a kind of reflex. Some kinds of anxiety can be useful, such as when you are nervous and fearful about something that is a risk or a stretch for you, and you do it anyway. But the kind of anxiety I’m talking about is a nagging sore, an ache. This is lousy for anyone, but particularly lousy for writers, who often waver in their confidence. That kind of poor-mouthing of my own work has put up walls for me.

Peeking Around a Writer’s Walls
But if the walls can’t be fully toppled, there are ways to peek around them. There are some simple admonitions of the kind that Steven Pressfield advocates in his War of Art and Do the Work books, both excellent. I simplify too much here, but the message there is, “Yes, writing is hard. Yes, you will have resistance and fear inhibiting your writing. Yes, write anyway.” It’s a stern but friendly note written to your mind: Mind, get out of the way, there’s writing to do. The writing itself is the therapy for the anxiety.

I do believe you can replace the habit of sourness with a habit of openness toward your work, but I certainly haven’t mastered it yet; it’s so easy to revert back to the kind of dystopian, known comfort of the bad habit. However, a few weeks ago, I started doing something simple that seems to be making a difference: meditating. That’s why I brought up that guru business above: my closet doesn’t have the right robe to easily say, “Meditate. There, go and sin no more.” But it’s helping me, and I think it’s helping my writing.

By doing a simple, seated morning meditation, focusing on the in and out of the breath, I’ve been able to look with a little more kindness on my monkey mind, the one that says my writing is crap. Watching my mind squirm, with its endless channel surfing, and trying to bring it back to just observing the pulse of the breath is quite amusing. Our minds are fleas, forever jumping. But looking at that in a generous spirit—“Ahh, the mind is doing its monkey tricks”—is calming.

Just after the meditation, my mind is a bowl of pudding, content and contained, yet I also get that Whitman sense of being large, of containing multitudes.

I’m finding that this paradoxical watching of the mind, just for the fifteen minutes I do the watching, is softening my anxiety. Just after the meditation, my mind is a bowl of pudding, content and contained, yet I also get that Whitman sense of being large, of containing multitudes. It carries over out of the meditation. Now, when the neighbor plays his favorite Toxic Smegma CD again at wall-shaking volume, rather than searching the Internet for a home missile launcher, I think, “Isn’t it interesting that’s the kind of music he likes.” I’m still tempted on the missile launcher, but my day is less disturbed.

Better Living Without Chemistry
I’ve always liked that Flaubert quote that says, “An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.” It feels like the mediation is granting me more presence, a way to look at my writing without a preconceived sense that it won’t measure up. In no way am I suggesting that you shouldn’t look at your writing with a critical eye; I’m suggesting you shouldn’t look at yourself with such a critical eye.

My goal is to more fully develop this kind of resilient ease—and it still ain’t easy. But despite my youthful devotion to under-the-counter chemistry, I have no interest whatsoever in the pharma-psychological path for anxiety relief. I’m going for the brisk bike ride (where, when I’ve been working on a piece of writing, many times I’ve marveled that full sentences, even paragraphs, come fully formed into my mind), and the morning meditation. By the way, the ones I’ve been using come from this iPad app (yes, the same one that Buddha used), but no electronic metronome is necessary. Just the steady in and out of the breath, and its observation.

Oh, and I’m still going to have the cocktails.

Oh, eternal UnBoxers, how do you stave off—or welcome and disarm—anxiety or gloom? Do you use a consistent technique, or have you tried various approaches? Know any intriguing recipes for a great Manhattan?

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About Tom Bentley

Tom Bentley is still trying to figure out what flavor of writer he is, but so far he’s a short story writer, novelist, essayist, travel writer, journalist, and business copywriter. He edits all that stuff too. His new book, Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See is available as an ebook on Amazon. His singing has been known to frighten the horses.

Comments

  1. says

    This is an interesting piece, as I think many people are harder on themselves than they need to be, in regards to their writing.

    But, I think you have to take the view with writing, that your first draft is never going to be great. Writing is a process, where you put down ideas in their rawer form and slowly go back and reshape them. It’s OK for a sentence to be terrible, because you have the wherewithal to make it better.
    RJ Crayton´s last blog post ..Headlines Hit Close to Home Again: Should your car kill you?

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    • says

      RJ, I like that attitude that there’s a liberation in knowing that you can always give a shabby bit of writing some good grooming. “Stand up straight, you!” I do like Anne Lamott’s declarations in Bird by Bird that it’s almost obligatory to write a shitty first draft, and once there, proceed.

      Get the work on the dance floor and then you can waltz with it. (No matter that there are inevitably toes upon which there might be stepping.)
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  2. says

    I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, so many of my friends engage in several minutes of prayer before writing. Seeking God’s guidance, that sort of thing. Same concept. Prayer and meditation are like Drain-O to the brain. It loosens all the crap and allows the free flow of ideas to pass. While I haven’t managed to make it a habit yet, I know that if I can take ten minutes to pray and meditate (the book of Proverbs is wonderful for this), it helps me un-focus and write without the day’s annoyances butting in.

    I have a garage band next door. Apparently you need a special permit for rocket launchers. Damned liberals.
    Ron Estrada´s last blog post ..Feed by Mira Grant

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    • says

      Ron, all garages should come with the Cone of Silence from the Get Smart tv show. (Now that reference should cause some head scratching among the fresher faces in the crowd.)

      Yes, prayer and meditation carry some of the same elements of focused attention and release; though it’s been awhile since I’ve strolled through Proverbs, I know there are flowers there to dip in and breathe deeply.

      Drain-O for the brain—I like that idea of starting from a clean slate on which to scribe.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  3. says

    A walk with my dog and rosary beads takes me out of the navel-gazing mode and outwards and upwards. Prayer is always my recourse. Sometimes it’s a quick one, “Jesus, I need you.” The name of our blessed Lord has power.
    Vijaya´s last blog post ..A Conversation with Gary Ludlam

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    • says

      Vijaya, I think any method that takes you out of moment-to-moment concerns (which so often pass on their own without manic attention) is helpful. I am seven leagues or so from my altar-boy days, but I can relate to your expression of prayer (and dog walking) as a means to settle in. I would walk my cat, but she is uncooperative.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  4. says

    Tom-

    I have to be honest: I don’t get writing angst. For me writing *is* chocolate. It’s a rye-based craft cocktail after work. It’s yoga. It’s an hour walking a beach.

    It’s better than se…[thinks]…okay, not that.

    Writing is my reward, my guilty pleasure, my getting in touch with myself, my reflection time, my centering, my ice water, my salad, my steak, my dessert, my crossword, my brain teaser, my movie with popcorn, my prayer, my offering, my redemption, my salvation.

    When I write it’s quiet. I get to drink coffee. I get to dream and make the dream real. I am far away from daily tasks but closer to myself. It’s the flip side of reading. It’s my own art but it isn’t yet public. I feel. I make life as dramatic as it isn’t, and is.

    I have to fight to write. There is so much else requiring my attention, and I don’t just mean the breakfast dishes. I have important things to do, like play with my son and teach him to be civilized, listen to my wife with interest, run a business, teach a few things, stay in shape. Arg. What am I even doing here, writing this comment?

    What I’m doing is calming myself, connecting, feeling the pleasure of words falling in place (then deleted and replaced), finding that my life has meaning and purpose.

    Writing angst? You said, “The writing itself is the therapy for the anxiety.” For me it’s the reverse. I feel angst when I’m not writing.
    Donald Maass´s last blog post ..Congratulations to Claire Donally!

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    • says

      “Writing is my reward, my guilty pleasure, my getting in touch with myself, my reflection time, my centering, my ice water, my salad, my steak, my dessert, my crossword, my brain teaser, my movie with popcorn, my prayer, my offering, my redemption, my salvation.”

      I love this Don and I wish it were like this for me ALL the time. I’ll have to explore why not.
      Vijaya´s last blog post ..A Conversation with Gary Ludlam

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    • says

      Don, writing indeed is a form of meditation and solace and companionship. I undoubtedly didn’t make it clear enough that it’s the hairball of thinking that fights the onset of the writing, or judges it with a baleful eye afterward that’s the problem.

      However, in reading your love letter toward letters, I am going to abandon my stated meditation practice if you will send me a recording of you typing (or perhaps even better, you scribbling in longhand) to meditate to. In fact, you might even consider making it available commercially—it will sweep the country!

      (Do be careful about civilizing your son too much though—you do know that Huck Finn had to get out on that raft because they were trying to “sivilize” him.)
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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    • Tom combs says

      Story Master-
      A great message! The opportunity to write is a gift.
      “Writing is the flip side of reading.” Might it be even more amazing? What a great contest to participate in – which is more spectacular rEading or writing? (-: Those of us with the luxury to indulge both passions are crazy fortunate.
      Tom- Great post. Nemaste

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    • says

      Tom–
      Manhattans are OK, but I’m a Rob Roy man myself. If the vermouth’s good (and of course a dash of bitters), you can use cheap scotch and never know the difference.
      Don–
      I am happy for those who need relief from writer’s angst and find it, but I am growing a little impatient with the amount of time and effort being spent on the topic. Isn’t it likely that dwelling on the problem, writing and thinking and talking about it just makes writer’s angst loom larger? In the same way I believe in putting work in a drawer to season it before rewriting, I put an unproductive state of mind in a drawer, and do some yard work. Soon enough, the problem takes its leave. In fact, simple physical tasks free the mind, and often lead to good ideas. Is this approach applicable to others? I have no idea. If worry beads or meditation works for others, that’s all to the good.

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  5. says

    The writing is the “easy” part for me, it’s all the “otherness” of this business that jerks me up by my innards and lodges them in my throat, sends my brain into dark areas I rather enjoy even while hating it – the enjoyment of it comes from the way sometimes angst can feel an apt punishment for thinking I’m too big for my britches because I know I have a gift and often squander it because i have a hard time focusing on what’s expected versus what I enjoy.

    To help with the weird of it all, I work out – and hard. When people see what I do on the treadmill, they don’t quite believe I’m doing what I’m doing and often think I’m nuts or a big ball of hyperkinetic energy encased in a tiny body – and I lift weights – and during the two hour ordeal of my routine, all of the Sh*T of it all, this business, goes to some corner and stays there – yup, even my writing angst knows it’s place when it’s time for me to kick my arse in the gym.
    kathryn Magendie´s last blog post ..When you said “never will I leave this place/ideal/way of life” . . . and then you do

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    • says

      “To help with the weird of it all…” Yeah, that. Sometimes just being alive can be such a peculiar state, particularly if you poke at it enough with the stick of your mind. Staring at something too much can make you cross-eyed though—like when you look at a common word, like “thing,” and begin to thing it’s spelled wrong. (Thing so?)

      Pardon my ramble. To the point, exercising is a great liberator for the beasts that snap at your soul. One of my true blessings as a work-at-home freelancer is that I can get out into the balmy air every day, which I invariably do, to hike, bike, walk—it’s all grace.

      You do sound like a terror on the treadmill—are there some warrior screams that go along with it? Ahh, the clarity of a good sweat …
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  6. says

    Nameste Tom,

    Fun stuff, as usual. I’m glad the meditation is working out for you, but if you ever need a writerly ego booster shot, feel free to drop me a line. I always love your posts and comments, so I’d be happy to extol the beauty of your sentences on any given day of angst.

    I’m sort of with both you and Don on this. I discovered the power of meditation through what I call my “Story Visualization” sessions. Never mind that my wife calls them naps, and that the sessions aren’t done in the lotus position (rather, they are reclined, with my cap brim pulled over my eyes). But my visualizing sessions are as mind-pudding-making as yours. I’ve long found that probing the depths of my story world and my characters is wonderfully relaxing for me. In fact, if I find myself wide awake at 3 am, rather counting the scallops on the ceiling cornice moldings, I ponder the backstory of my MC’s grandfather. I just did spent a half-hour doing this between 5:43 and 6:00 this morning.

    The actual drafting of story is also wonderfully soothing to me. It’s all of the stuff after that that tends to twist me up. You know, the having-others-read, pondering feedback, figuring out what needs revision, figuring out how to revise the thing that might need revision (but might not!), etcetera. If I could just keep cranking out lengthy manuscript after lengthy manuscript in my story-world (maybe ala Robert Jordan), and forget about the rest, I might live the rest of my days in relative bliss. Some days I wonder why I don’t do just that (for one, unlike Robert Jordan, I wouldn’t be paid for it… yet).

    I suppose I’ve come to see that if I’d gone that route from the get-go, I might have missed out on a lot of personal growth. Seems the twisting leads to dreaded personal exploration, and causes necessary butting up against those pesky lurking fears. And if I’d gone that route, I’d have never discovered WU, and you, and Don, and a lot of friends and very rewarding experiences. You get the picture.

    So, yes, writing and story = good and soothing; twisting over submitting to judgement = angst and general discontent. Total package of soothing story sessions and being judged (eventually) = rewarding pursuit. Guess I’ve locked my psyche into this pudding-cup prison. Thanks for sharing!
    Vaughn Roycroft´s last blog post ..Story Research – Letting the Brain Assist the Heart

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    • says

      Vaughn, your story visualization somnolences, er, sessions, sound helpful. I was struggling with the end of a very long story yesterday, and I didn’t see it in my mind’s eye, and couldn’t even move to the page. So I just sat in with the characters for a while, saw the mud and straw and sinew that made them what they were in the first place, and felt—almost literally felt—the ending. Somewhat akin to your story world meditations.

      Thank you for the warm words. Give the thumb-on-nose-fingers-extended salute to that angst demon for me. And even though you will at some point have to count to the precise figure all the scallops on the ceiling cornice moldings, there’s plenty of time.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  7. says

    You definitely make a good point, Tom, about being present when we write. I have my most rewarding days when, no matter my surroundings, the world of the story in front of me opens up a little bit wider.

    Sometimes I think us writers have it better than everyone, even scientists who are forever discovering new facts about the world; we are forever discovering whole new universes and are their pioneers, laboring to get every detail fleshed out for when our readers come for a vacation. That, in itself, takes presence, lots of it. No room for anxiety or itchy-pants syndrome. How do I overcome the bad days? Often its with a reminder of what a beautiful thing I am a part of, and that’s enough. When it’s not, there’s always a good nap.
    John Robin´s last blog post ..Just getting started…

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  8. says

    Great post! Ive written a couple of articles about how helpful meditation can be for writers. It helps me to stay in a flow state while I’m working and also helps me to distinguish the voice or my ego (who is frankly a very bad writer) from the voice of the story. The more I meditate the more I feel like the conduit for the work instead of the actual creator, and I take far less wrong turns, It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing except for maybe following the Artist’s Way.
    Fifteen minutes a day makes all the difference.

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  9. Ronda Roaring says

    Hi, Tom.

    I’m sorry to tell you that I can’t relate to what you’re writing (or experiencing) at all. I don’t feel anxiety or gloom or fear when I write, ever. I feel empowered. Writing is like my magic wand, my sword or my lightsaber. When I wave it, I change the world. It’s that simple.

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  10. says

    “…it’s so easy to revert back to the kind of dystopian, known comfort of the bad habit.”

    A beautiful analogy. I’m another who has to fight to get out of my way. Once I’m there, in the zone, nothing else matters, but to get there when the story isn’t running hot? It ain’t easy.

    Besides showing up at the page, because regular doses of writing keep the anxiety minimized, I’ve variously used meditation, long walks, and timed writing. Of late, though, the most effective technique is to journal about the story. It doesn’t take long before I’m stumbling across dialogue or blocking out a scene or writing actual words, but the immersion is so gentle, I haven’t had time to tense up. In other words, I’m a literary frog who’s set the stove burner to self-boil.
    Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Spring Sharesies (and Writer Unboxed Redirect)

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    • says

      Jan, I’ve meant to return to timed writing, because I was able to finish a novel last year by setting a mere half-hour a day to work on it, same time, every day. And as people who employ that method note, that small time seems doable no matter your schedule, and you often will write for longer periods past the set time. But I’ve fallen away from that lately.

      But tell me a bit more about what you mean by “journal the story.” Is that like writing diary entries in the minds of the characters? I haven’t tried anything like that.

      As for literary frogs, they make great meditators: they can breathe above and below water.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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      • says

        “Is that like writing diary entries in the minds of the characters?”

        Sometimes. When I’m struggling, it’s because the story has gone cold for me. Either I haven’t written in a few days or I’ve hit the end of a scene and need to transition to a different character’s viewpoint or I’ve hit a stepping stone scene that’s murky to me but necessary to provide the motivation for the next clear scene. In other words, I’m feeling disconnected from the story’s spine. So I’ll jump in and start journaling about what’s just happened, its significance to the characters, anything I know about the coming scene–sensory details, time of day, etc.–until I’m grounded back in the fictive world. At some point, without my awareness, I often move from talking about the story into writing it.

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  11. says

    Great post, Tom. I’m with RJ. I never worry about first drafts. They’re supposed to be bad. It’s all about getting the basic story down. The biggest challenge for me is to take those bird droppings and shine them up into a gleaming pearl of a story. As for the typical writer’s lack of confidence in his work, I don’t necessarily view that as a negative. My default attitude is that my writing stinks and I need to work hard to make it better, but that’s a healthier attitude than the delusional belief that I’m a Pulitzer Prize winning author. I cope by exercising and stepping away from my laptop when I get stuck or too stressed. Writing for me is generally a release and an outlet, not a source of stress. Thanks again, Tom.
    CG Blake´s last blog post ..Good Girl Gone Bad or Shades of Gray?

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    • says

      CG, thanks back at you. I’m with you that wearing the ermine robe (isn’t that what they all wear?) of a Pulitzer Prize winner in advance doesn’t cut it. On the opposite end of the trophy case is the writer paralyzed by pensiveness, before pen hits page. That’s the face I’ve seen in the mirror occasionally, and that face needs a good slap. Or some minutes of meditation.

      You are certainly right in that it isn’t a negative when you get into the grits of your writing knowing that those grits need stirring. It’s not getting them cooked that’s the problem.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  12. says

    I love this post. I’ve been meditating irregularly since I took a class in college and discovered it helped me study, and I know intellectually that if I just make the space for that 15 minutes before I start work, it will pay off in productivity that’s surprising. But I still think, “oh, I just want to get to work.”

    Monkey mind is what gets me into trouble all the time. Just being able to hear it at all can be really helpful.

    I am a long walker, too. It helps.

    And I’ll join you in the cocktail, or rather a glass of wine….
    Barbara O’Neal´s last blog post ..Kindly Shepherd’s Pie

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    • says

      Barbara, well I know that thing about stepping back from the monkey mind and looking at its incessant chatter for what it is—mostly inanities and useless self-digs, dug in from time long ago when you had fewer defenses. I’m trying to make it simple for my conversation with that mind: saying in response, “Yeah, whatever.”

      Oh, wine works too!
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  13. says

    I also have issues with writing angst and depression, especially if a chapter is slow to develop or if I can’t find my way out of the thicket of a draft no matter how sharp my machete happens to be. I don’t meditate, but I’m thinking more seriously about it now. I usually begin with the same playlist, full of bold we’re-going-into-battle music to shut the world out. Usually, once I get going I don’t want to stop. Like a kid who doesn’t want to take a bath and then doesn’t want to get out of the water.
    Jillian Boston´s last blog post ..The Lamp Lighter

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  14. says

    Jillian, one of the biggest tricks (for me at least) is to just get in the water. Once you’re in the writing, you can splash about, paddle, go into the depths or the shallows, float—all that stuff.

    It’s all that crazy “it’s too cold, hot, mossy, glossy, greasy” that stops even putting a toe in that’s problematic.
    Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  15. says

    Tom–
    I enjoyed your post, and think you are a witty writer. But since I see a commenter quoting your use of “revert back,” I feel the need to point out that it’s not possible to revert in any other direction. Sorry. Once an English teach, always an English teach.

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    • says

      Barry, you must mean the conventional “revert back.” I was using the one common on Tralfamadore, which means “pulverize with extreme prejudice.” I should have noted that. But yes, that’s an oops of mine, and being an editor myself, a double oops.

      Don’t know about scotch and sweet vermouth being good partners, but I do admire a drink named after a Scottish Robin Hood. I’m much more partial to bourbon. But good bitters yes, I try new ones pretty often. For the most recent Manhattans and Old Fashioneds in the house, an orange flower bitters has supplied the right bite.
      Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  16. Steve MC says

    This kind of mindfulness is definitely helpful in all things. And like you say, if you can’t let go of the thoughts, you can still challenge them and knock them down as the cardboard taunts they usually are.

    If anyone’s interested, a great book on learning such mindfulness is Stephen Levine’s A Gradual Awakening.

    And I couldn’t help but be reminded by your title of this quote from Leonard Cohen, a writer himself.

    Prozac seemed to put a floor on how low I could go, but it also put a ceiling on how high I could go. It kept me in a very narrow range. I tried Paxil, and it put me into a terrible funk. But Zen meditation, that kind of intimacy you develop with yourself, has been most effective.

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  17. says

    “Cardboard taunts”—good one, Steve. Indeed so many of our monsters are just the great and powerful Oz posturing behind a screen and a microphone. I have read some of Levine’s stuff before (and saw him read many years ago in San Francisco); he’s good.

    As for Cohen, he and I differ: Paxil made my heart spin like a gyroscope. Never again. Meditating is so much more relaxing.
    Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  18. says

    I stave off—or welcome and disarm—anxiety and gloom by doing the deed that helped cause the anxiety and gloom (I’m the other half of the problem). I’m just plain ole tired of worrying about it. No matter how hard I try, some butt-wipe will ridicule my writing. Whatever. People ridicule the great and good writers. Of course, they will rip my writing apart.
    Dream
    Write
    Read
    Write
    share
    listen
    Learn
    Plan
    Write
    Read, make a circle and do it all over again. I’ll write with my heart operating at 200 beats a minute. I’ll write in the pit of despair. Shit! I might be a little more like Sylvia Plath than I realize. Gloom is my baby brother, so writing in gloom is similar to drinking warm water after a hard day of work. Sometimes it tastes good and other times it doesn’t. I neither write nor drink water to satisfy my taste buds. The benefits of both reside a little deeper in the body and not just the tongue.
    Brian B. King´s last blog post ..Big Hospital Finally telling the truth about Cancer, Johns Hopkins

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  19. Poeticus says

    I am of at least two minds all things, often up to seven conscious mental code processes operant at any given moment, background processing underway during nonconscious and subconscious states.

    Meditation is for me a method for getting the many mentation packets to harmonize, yeah, harmonize, so they communicate across platforms and applications and among their domain units. I don’t turn off the inner editor, proofreader, tactician, strategist in favor of the creator application mentations, not even when I go to bed. Then they all do their work in the dream state mentation without conscious control.

    Pack the ole brain box with mentation — research, development, sketches, anecdotes, vignettes, and so on — and let it do its, what, filtering, organizing, inventing, processing, you know, while I sleep.

    Those pesky recurring nightmares from the servitude wage slob jobs I had once had to live on remind me of deadlines, pressures, and stressors generally that are on point and demand timely attention: wake me up with the customer not served no matter the efforts I make, and complaining to the boss that I’m a moron.

    Before I sleep, a little visualization mediation mentation sets up the night’s chore work, soothes the runaway consciousness overfed. Reading a bit before creating writing — of a type suited to the work at hand — is a meditative mentation for me too: classics in a Gilded Age voice, a comic book in a campy ’60s era superhero voice, some little bit of hardboiled cynic operqant in bleak settings noir voice. Other arts are other mediation mentations too: the mesmerisms of working with hands in clay, on wood, metal, plastic, glass, bread dough, plaster — ahh, mentation moments one and all.

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  20. says

    Poeticus, I am intrigued by your use of the dream state to process to soothe and filter all those cerebral corridors of yours, though I fear if I was conscious of “seven conscious mental code processes” I wouldn’t be able to make my morning coffee.

    I know well what you mean by the servitude wage slave jobs: I had a job where I packed spark plugs in small individual boxes and then packed those into somewhat larger boxes and then packed those … you get the picture. Boxed in, indeed.

    I agree that reading too is a meditation, and I like that you take in a range of genres; I think that smooths out the various-sized ripples in the mind’s blanket. Thanks for writing!
    Tom Bentley´s last blog post ..Editing with Sharp Knives: Dangerous, Dramatic, Definitive

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  21. says

    I have a wish board. On this board I have posted everything that inspires me to write. I have some great writers’ sayings that I admire; a handful of positive Chinese fortune-cookie blurbs; the query letter for the novel that is currently being shopped by my agent; a few photos that inspire me; and lastly, a short and long version of a mantra I repeat EVERY DAY (the shorter version can be recited in the car, the shower, the market, etc). The entire board looks like a rather boring shrine, but it is the springboard that keeps me not only writing, as well as in a positive frame of mind. All serious writers should try it! : )

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