“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you’ll see obstacles.”
A story: A man making a business presentation was feeling incredibly nervous. He paced outside the door of the boardroom he was about to enter: His mouth was dry, his pulse was pounding. Then he had an idea: Instead of telling himself to relax, as he usually did — which never really helped — he told himself, “I feel excited!” Suddenly, all his symptoms of nervousness — the tight stomach, the racing pulse — began to energize him. When the boardroom doors opened, he bounded in and gave a dynamic, successful pitch.
Fiction? Yes, but the story holds a nugget of truth we can use to advantage in our writing. I’m sure there isn’t anyone among us who doesn’t know from experience that feeling tense and stressed dams up our creative juices. “A relaxed mind is a creative mind” is one of my favorite Yogi teabag quotes. Yet sometimes worry and anxiety can get in the way of a productive writing session. Luckily, there’s a simple solution;
“The science of emotions tells us tells us that our bodies respond similarly to different emotions, including anger, excitement, and anxiety. And recent research has shown that if we verbally put those symptoms into a different context — by saying, “I feel excited” when feeling stressed, for example — we can trick ourselves into following suit…in the right context, stress can become a source of positive energy — not just a by-product of anxiety.” So says Ian Robertson, author of The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper (Time, January 23, 2017).
Amazing, isn’t it, how our mind works? By telling ourselves we’re excited when we feel stress, we can gain access to a positive energy that can fuel our creativity instead of damming it up! This is the same principle can allow us to handle obstacles with positive energy: When we hit a rough patch, we can use my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert’s* approach and get “fascinated instead of frustrated.” Frustration saps our creativity, while fascination fuels it.
How wonderful to have a simple way to keep our creativity flowing! Write on!