Friday, August 2, 2013

Searching Through The Snow

My husband is taking a workshop where he works, called “Search Inside Yourself” … It seems like a pretty cool class. It’s four hours a week, four classes. Evidently it began at Google by a guy interested in helping people who count on moving forward run into different levels of anxiety that stifle the creative process.

One is called the snowglobe. Deals with calming all that snow floating around the head. You know what that snow is…it’s the worry, the things you need to get done, the things you think you need to do, the things others think you need to do, The things you really need to do, the things that matter, the things that don’t matter… The stuff that distorts the vision…the narrow vision that is required to accomplish…well…anything.

I think it’s pretty interesting that his company is sponsoring this program and he says the class is quite full. Like over 50 people.

I’d actually like to attend! It’s based on the concept of Emotional Intelligence, something too many people rate a black star for.

Though as a writer, the ability to manage the snowglobe is more a talent we learn, not…unlearn. (With the business view, they are attempting to ignore the snow and just keep moving forward. Force a calmness in the storm. Writers manage the snow.) We write, we promote, we blog, we facebook, we tweet, we go to conventions, we worry about sales, we worry about reviews, about not getting reviews, about our readers. If we aren’t published, we worry about finishing, about what will happen after we finish…on and on and on.  We have so many frigging balls in the air, it’s like a snowstorm around us all the bloody time.

Save when we write. When we are able to just get lost in the process and forget we’re surrounded by snow, perched next to that snowman. That’s when we’re in the groove.

The DH also told me about another aspect in the class…which said when we are in that groove it means we are confident in our skills. That anxiety enters when we are scared and uncertain…because we lack a skill. The only way around it is to develop the skill necessary to bring the anxiety down so that the challenge meets the skill and you’re back in that groove.  (Or lower the challenge to balance with your skills. I do think this is a viable option, especially when it comes to things like learning social media. The challenge of being able to use every one of them and develop and use the skills necessary to be comfortable with them all? It’s a career all in itself! So lower the challenge expectations and just pick one or two of them.)

Well, yeah, that makes sense.

But what was interesting was that sometimes we are unable to find that groove because our skill outweighs the challenge….so we get bored. And that can fill us with anxiety. (Writing is supposed to be fun, right? Not…boring. But sometimes, it is. And we feel like something is wrong with us or the writing if we get bored. But in reality…we are just doing a part of the ‘job’ where our skills outweigh the challenge! Like editing an old manuscript…my skills have grown, so as I revise/edit, I get bored with the process. Doesn’t mean it’s flawed. I HAVE to remember this…)

The key is the balance of the two.  You increase the challenge so that you, again, find the groove.

I’m presently revising the last fourth of large book and struggling. I realized last night that I was struggling because…I’m bored. Now, I know the story and at first I resisted the idea that the story wasn’t challenging me. It’s the punctuation fixes and the POV fixes and…not the story! But…it’s the story. It’s missing something that will challenge me. And I figured out what it was. I need an external challenge for my couple. So! Developing that is next on my list…right after I get thru the punctuation/POV/etc. fixes.

Because I want the groove back.

Personally, I love the groove.

And I hate snow. I’m not a good juggler and I get cold. I freeze when presented with too much snow. Actual snow and mental snow. Demands of snow. Some people just rise to the challenge. Or they relish the organization of all that snow, or they play with it and build snowmen and forts…and… I’m losing control of this!

Anyway! What do you think of the things the DH is discovering? Where do you find yourself on the chart? Or in the snowglobe?



Maureen said...

Well, that was brilliant...I added a paragraph and contradicted myself... ARGH!!!!

Okay, I wrote this over two days and had a revelation partway thru and then didn't proofread it...

Sue me.


Marnee Bailey said...

LOL!! This is a really interesting concept. The whole challenge to skill graph is really accurate, I think. I've definitely had different challenges in life where I believed I wasn't up to it. Most of the time, I just kept going and I'd end up just fine. But it is a hard, anxiety-ridden road.

Because I think you can work through the bored part or the anxiety stressed part and still prevail. It's just harder and not as much fun. And many time then you don't feel like you did a good job or are doing a good job until the challenge is over. And it's hard to work like that.

This first draft around, I felt a lot more like I was in a groove than I have in the past. But I'm not sure where I lived on that graph before. Too much challenge? Bored? No idea. LOL

Terri Osburn said...

I'm not exactly sure how to read that chart, but I think experience anxiety/scared pushes me to keep going. I've always been contrary that way. Though I also know if I'm bored with a story (or just a scene) that the reader will be too. So I guess I dance between those two and the words really flow when I'm in the groove.

The brain snow comes and goes for me. If someone throws extra snow in, then I get thrown out of whack. And when things are going well, snow starts to melt and less handling is required. So if I really want to stay on track with the writing, it's very important to keep things going well (in all aspects of my life.)

MsHellion said...

I love the second picture-concept. That I'd believe quite a bit--and something I should keep in mind. I'm not in the groove because possibly I'm bored...interesting. Need to work on that. I do think that's why I stop writing for a time because the story or characters are boring me (usually because they've been with me too long.)

The snow...reminds me of that writing quote about driving in the dark. When driving at night, your headlights only let you see a few feet in front of you, but you can go the whole way that way. I think that's important to remember about the snow...if you keep walking, you're a lot more likely to survive the snowstorm than if you lie down and let it take you. You only need to see a few feet ahead of you and take care of the things that absolutely need to be done now rather than all the things that need to be done for all time.

I like classes like this..I just got done with a meditation class. Mindful Based Stress Reduction actually...and much of it is learning to be present in the current moment, not focused on the past or worried about the future. If you're present for the moment, you have the strength and awareness to do what you need to do now.

Janga said...

Interesting stuff. I bet the class is fascinating. I do ok with the snow until it reaches blizzard conditions, but that seems to have been happening with some frequency lately.

I wonder if the anxiety/scared is always a result of lacking the skills or if it's sometimes a matter of lacking confidence in skills you possess.

Maureen said...

Marn - Oh, yeah. You can work thru the bored. You can also work through the scared...but the best place to work...the place where you feel unbeatable and probably the best ideas the groove. I do think that pushing through the lack of skill or the lack of challenge are both valuable. They do teach us something.

I think the trick is that you don't want the majority of your work to be either of those paths. You want the majority to be in the groove. It's where you don't freak out and ideas flow and you get so much done!

I believe that most of the 3-5 million words I wrote before the challenge/skill balance fell apart...all took part in the groove. As I review and revise these works I run against the lack of skill or the lack of adequate challenge and what I'm doing now is nudging them to the groove.

Maureen said...

Terri! Yeah, the challenge pushes you...but if it were the only way you could work, it would exhaust you. You'd burn out before you're done. Your groove place may be steeper than the graft illustrates, but too steep and even you will burn out.

I can imagine your groove starting out steeper and you like it that way, but as you levels off. If by nothing else than the simple fact that as you work, you prove to yourself that you do have the skills...and the groove is reached.

The snow? I think when we're in the groove, we don't even notice it. Even if more is thrown at us.

Maureen said...

Hellion - I think boredom is often what drives an author to abandon a work. Sure, there is the fear that her skills aren't up to the challenge, but more likely...the rush of a new love wears down and boredom appears. Up the challenge...and that can improve.

It was a weird thing for me to admit I was bored with what I was doing. And oddly enough, once I did that, the revision started flowing so smoothly, I actually made it to the end last night.... But I still know I need to walk back into that story and fiddle with it!

Mindfullness based stress reduction! I took that class! And the DH says it is also part of his present class. Loved the concept! Did you use Kabat-Zinn?

And yeah, the idea of driving in the dark resonates with me as I way to work through the snow... Nice!

Maureen said...

Janga - I don't know about the lack of confidence taking the place of lack of skills...but it makes sense. They both would promote fear/anxiety...good point.

Since the groove is mostly a mental place, I imagine anything that throws you off mentally is legit.

And yeah, the's like someone is filling the glove with snow...and then they shake it. Which is an entirely new issue!