I got an e-reader from Santa. The first book I read on it was Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott. At one point she talks about giving advice to someone to act as if they had a belief in a higher power. That phrase “act as if” is big in 12 Step circles. Not feeling like being sober right now? Act like you are–go to a meeting, call your sponsor, etc.
Studies back up the idea that if you want a quality, you should act as if you already have it. Smiling before you feel happy can make you feel happy. Acting like you’re in love with someone could very well make you fall in love him or her (explaining countless on-set romances).
Laura Schenck, M.A. writes on her “Mindfulness Muse” blog:
“If you are having trouble with getting started on a project, be it cleaning out the closet or finishing a major presentation for work, act as if you are truly interested in the task at hand. Make the behavioral choice to force yourself to spend ‘just a few minutes’ on the project that you have been avoiding. It is likely that simply getting going in this way will give you the push that you need to spend more time getting things done.”
Which helps explain why Barbara O’Neal’s 20-minute win is so effective. Besides combating procrastination, how might writers benefit from acting as if? In “2,000 to 10,000: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love” Rachel Aaron says she has more productive, more enjoyable writing days when she takes five minutes to jot down notes about what she plans to write about that day. Not only to give her a brain an outline to follow but to get her enthusiasm going. To make her feel excited about writing. “Every day…I would play the scene through in my mind and try to get excited about it,” she writes.
That’s not quite acting as if. But could smiling while you write help you feel more enthused about that day’s work? Could acting like you love your work help you get in touch with what you do really love about it? [Read more…]