LOVE that quote. This sort of positive thinking holds special meaning for me this week. In case you didn’t know already, in addition to writing books, working for Maiedae, and being a wife to the Philosopher, I am also training for my black belt in Hapkido. I actually do two types of martial arts: Hapkido and Taekwondo. I LOVE it! However, over the last year, I have learned that my body is not exactly “normal” and it often makes various techniques difficult//painful//etc. This autumn, the problems I’d been having finally reached a “perfect storm” and I had to sit back, relax, and examine my options. To make a VERY convoluted story more concise, I am extremely double-jointed//hypermobile. For a martial artist who practices a lot of joint locks, this can be problematic. When my right shoulder became heavily inflamed and painful, I had to go see THE DOCTOR.
Thankfully, I had suffered no “injury”, but my hypermobility had created a necessity for “outside help”. The perscription? Physical therapy and brain retraining. Now, you probably know what I mean when I say “physical therapy”. You might imagine the usual trainer//patient montage of myriad weight bearing exercises and stretches. But brain retraining? Crickets. By brain retraining, I don’t mean some weird sort of physio-brain-washing. I mean this: I need to retrain my mind to tell my body to stop certain movements. It’s a whole lot harder than it sounds. My physical therapist is teaching me the correct way for my body to move, even when my body naturally moves a WHOLE lot more during certain exercises.
It will be a difficult few months ahead with my therapy, but I am SO thankful for the opportunity to reverse some of the bad habits and “damage” I might have created by allowing my joints to move too far. What does all of this have to do with writing, you might ask? For me, a lot. It makes me think of all the things I might have allowed to become bad habits in my work. Now that I’ve gotten two of my books published, my lazy self is tempted to say, “Okay, L.M., you’ve obviously got this writing thing down. No need to learn new tricks or improve weak areas.” My hard-core self screams, “NO! NO! NO! Now is the time to learn new things, shore up the weak places, and make strides to grow as a writer!” The hard-core self is, of course, the voice to listen to in this case.
This, too, involves brain retraining–especially if, as a writer, you’ve gotten used to some bad habits. What are some bad habits I personally think I’ve allowed to thrive in my work?
/1/ A fear of rewrites — How is this a habit? Because it causes me to allow an “okay” scene to slide by when it could really become GREAT if I just rewrote it entirely. I’m definitely getting MUCH better at this one, but my progress cannot stop. I need to expunge this fear completely.
/2/ Not allowing enough “sitting” time on a manuscript between edits. — By “sitting time”, I mean that period where you keep your eyes OFF a manuscript so that you can then approach it a week or two later with “fresh eyes”. Many authors let their manuscripts lie fallow for months. Some several weeks. Me? Maybe a day or two. *GASP!* I know, I know. It’s a terrible habit and I really need to fix it. For me, the temptation comes from the desire to put out new books as soon as possible. While this is a noble goal, I need to allow my mind time to “get out of sync” with my stories so that I can then look at them anew and find errors that I might not have found otherwise.
/3/ Letting the internet distract my writing time. — BAD, L.M.! BAD! This is a habit most writers are probably guilty of, but it still needs to be addressed. The biggest problem that comes from this bad habit is the productive time that is lost by allowing the mind to slip out of its “ZONE”.
I know I’ve probably cultivated many more bad habits, but those three are probably the worst for me. Still, I’ve also made great improvements and grown tremendously over the last few years. I cannot discount all my hard work and my genuine desire for continued improvement.
My physical journey right now is constantly reminding me of my work as a writer. I want to grow and change and “retrain my brain” in the places that need it. As I work to correct my body’s stubborn hypermobility, I will also work to improve my bad writing and work habits. I’m a big believer in body, mind, and spirit working together when approaching a problem, concern, or hurdle.
What are some of the things in your life that might require brain retraining? I’d love to hear! We can all encourage each other on our individual journeys to better habits, better work, and better lives!