So, a couple weeks ago, I started re-reading a book called “Redirect” by Timothy D. Wilson. It promotes the “story editing” approach to life, which should be perfect for a writer, right?
But Wilson isn’t offering insights about writing, per se. His book is about psychology and neuroscience, not novels.
And still, it is about narratives.
Here’s an excerpt from Wilson’s interview with Scientific American:
We all have personal stories about who we are and what the world is like. These stories aren’t necessarily conscious, but they are the narratives by which we live our lives. Many of us have healthy, optimistic stories that serve us well. But sometimes, people develop pessimistic stories and get caught in self-defeating thinking cycles, whereby they assume the worst and, as a result, cope poorly.
You (and I) have heard a bazillion times that “writers write” so get off your butt and just write.
So why aren’t you (or I) writing?
After the conferences and workshops and talks and great blog posts and all that motivation… why aren’t you writing? Once you’ve rocked out (or not) for a month doing NaNoWriMo why aren’t you still writing in December or January, February, March, etc.?
Could it be the story you tell yourself about who you are? Maybe it’s because you’re looking at your stumbles and thinking, “I’m just not supposed to be a writer.”
Or, maybe it’s because you’re telling yourself bad stories, like the situation has to be right, that you must first be inspired, that you will as soon as…
But, Chris, there’s not enough time in the day. Believe me, I know. And after work, who has the energy? I get that one too. Just try to get up that early, or find a few minutes in your day when the kids and your spouse demand all your attention.
Yep, but in the end, what you think of as “reasons” for not writing — and others call “excuses” for not writing — are actually the elements of the bad story you’re telling yourself.
Wilson’s book, which is also about the stories that are told to us and the stories we tell others, offers clearer advice than I can about how to suss out what story you’re telling yourself and how to change it.
But that doesn’t mean you have to read it (though I’ve enjoyed it twice now) for you to experiment with the principle: Editing your story can change your behavior.
You are a storyteller. I believe that about you (and me). So, if you’re still struggling to establish a solid writing routine, flex your storytelling — and story editing — muscles on yourself first.
Do you agree? Are you planning to try it? Or is this the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard in the history of ever? Share your thoughts, opinions, experiments, ideas, problems and miscellaneous random whatnot below.
Chris Horne is a Macon-born writer in the midst of a move to Akron, Ohio. Before he tricked his beautiful wife into becoming his beautiful wife, they started the Crossroads Writers Conference with a couple of like-minded (and like-awesome) Maconites, Dr. Monica Young-Zook and Dr. Kelly Whiddon.