Saturday, September 17, 2016
Me and Dr. Pavlov
Good Saturday morning, all. The furniture's arranged, the drapes are hung, and most importantly, the coffee maker is set up and bubbling nicely! For a number of reasons, most notably to avoid interference with my writing projects, I plan to move this blog back to Thursdays, but I wanted to have a little housewarming party for followers and friends old and new, so I'm going to lead with a post that will give a good representation of what you can expect to see here for the foreseeable future.
How do you get in the mood to write? Most people will probably say they just sit down and start writing, either when the urge strikes them, or at a certain time of day. To a great extent, that's my approach, as I have the house to myself in the early mornings, so I get up and make use of the time. But how do you make yourself ready to make best use of the time when it is available?
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who accomplished many amazing things that helped lay the groundwork for modern medicine, and was awarded both a Nobel Prize and a Copley Medal, but he is best remembered today for his work in the field of Conditioned Response. Who hasn't heard of Pavlov's dogs? In its simplest form, the story is related that he rang a bell each time he offered food to a test group of dogs. Said dogs would quite naturally salivate at the sight and smell of food. Eventually, the dogs would salivate and otherwise prepare physiologically to eat at the sound of the bell alone. The question I pose to you is, how can you take advantage of that in order to maximize use of your writing time? All I can tell you is what I do. If you're a writer, you must have a good imagination. Maybe you can think of something similar that will get your creative juices flowing.
I get up in the morning and put the coffee on. Yes, I'm quite addicted to the Sweet Nectar of Life, and no cracks, if you please! While that's perking, I look over my notes and outline to get a feel for what I hope to accomplish in the day's session. Once the coffee's ready, I light a stick of incense. I prefer nag champa, with sandalwood running a close second. Perfumed smoke rising, I pour a large cup of coffee and infuse it with a flavored creamer. Again, I have favorites, among them Coconut and Almond, Hazelnut, and Irish Cream. I then take that cup to the beautiful Queen Anne desk in the photo above (relax, it's a reproduction), take that first sip to get the flavor on my palate, and with the incense teasing my olfactory lobes, I can almost feel the neural channels to the creative wing of the old brain expanding for the free passage of ideas. I have somewhat ambiguous feelings about grouping myself with a pack of conditioned dogs, but I know it works; advantage is where you find it.
In the ongoing discussion about doping in sports, a question that always comes up is, "If you could take a pill that would make you significantly better at your job than your competition, would you?" Well, would you? Here's a drug-free "pill" that you can use without guilt or repercussion to make your writing flow. It takes a little while to condition yourself, but once you do, you'll see a dramatic improvement in production. I did; I know it works.
Will you take it? I guess the main point is to establish a routine that you follow, little pleasant details, like a pre-reward for performance, every time you sit down to write, and very soon that part of your mind, whatever it is, that sets up blocks will come to understand that this is writing time, and you don't plan to entertain any resistance. It will get used to taking a couple of hours off, and you will get used to turning out copy at a level you never dared dream of before.
Will you take it?
Whatever you decide, read well, and write better!