365 Days of Writing – Day 49


Thank you Mr. President -past and present – for a day off. So much to do. Taxes to prepare. A big box of miscellaneous stuff to sort through. Hems to sew. Clothes to iron. It really isn’t that much. If I’d just get to it, I’d be done before I knew it. Instead, I build up the to-do’s into an insurmountable hurdle, one best avoided. Instead of taking care of what needs to be done, I open a book, pour myself into my laptop or turn on the television. Television is the worst culprit. The few weeks when I didn’t watch any TV, I accomplished so much. But now I have cable. I get caught up in Animal Planet’s “Too Cute” or any one of a dozen shows on HGTV like “Love it or List it” and “House Hunters” – I can just keep watching episodes back to back. I got that way with “Mad Men” too. I intentionally have not been watching “Downton Abbey” because I know I will loose myself in it.

I read an article recently in “Poet’s & Writers”* that explained writers block from a scientific/biological point of view. Turns out when we are faced with something that is daunting or frigtenting our limbic system takes control. This means our cortex is de-commissioned. As the cortex is in charge of higher-level functions – such things as problem solving, motor functions and creative endeavors – when it is decommissioned we don’t handle any of those particularly well. For me, the to-do’s are the challenge which kicks in the limbic system.

To get over the roadblocks you need to overcome your body’s automatic response. I know it’s possible. At work I often want to put off a task which I think will be too difficult. Unlike home tasks which no one but me cares about, work tasks aren’t avoidable, not if you want to stay employed. So I’ve pushed myself to tackle the unwanted task and I’d say 99.99% of the time the task isn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined it to be. Usually it takes me only half the time I expected it to take and is completely painless.

I just need to force myself to deal with home tasks the way I do work tasks. Knowing what I need to do and actually doing it is the problem. Right now I’d rather fall back asleep than tidy. I think to distract my limbic system, I’ll make a batch of brownies. That’ll give me a reward incentive. If I do a task, I’ll allow myself a brownie. Gotta go, baking awaits!

*”The Inspired Mind – A Window Into the Writer’s Brain – by Arnie Cooper – Jan/Feb 2013


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