Change Your Perspective by Reframing

When we’re stuck it can be helpful to find a different perspective, see ourselves or our challenge from a different angle. It’s called reframing, and in Dave Gray’s excellent book Liminal Thinking he points us to this tool at thnk.org. (Yes, it’s missing the vowel. Maybe some team-spirited person said “There’s no I in think!” and it stuck.)

You don’t have to think hard to use the tool. It’s mostly a mechanical process, which helps keep emotional Resistance out of the way.

Here’s how it works.

Overtly Challenge Your Assumptions

The tool asks you to write down the belief you’d like to change. Then you write a number of supporting statements for that belief.

Now the trick: you write the opposite of each statement.

I call it a trick because you’re not asked to understand, believe, trust, or otherwise engage with these opposites. Just write them.

Based on those opposites, you write a final statement reframing your original statement differently: as an opposite.

Nonsense. Piffle. Balderdash. Tomfoolery.

You’d think, eh? Not so.

I’ve said before that reality doesn’t exist out there, it exists in our minds. The physical mechanical act of writing those sentences changes your brain’s perspective.

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. I don’t believe me either.

Get Out of the Kitchen

I can’t stand the heat. For family reasons, we moved from northern Wisconsin’s glorious invigorating 6-month winters to southern Arizona’s perpetual blistering blazing boiling summers. Last summer, I was miserable in a way you’d have a hard time imagining if I wasn’t a skilled writer capable of composing that last sentence.

This summer, determined to Do Something About It, I used the Reframe tool.

Here are my initial statement and supporting beliefs:

Here, the opposites:

And a text summary:

Toward the end of the text summary is the secret.

We Choose What We Believe

Yes, another thing that doesn’t feel true, but it is. We think our beliefs are simply the factual conclusions we’ve drawn from the reality around us. If you’d like to challenge that misconception, read the aforementioned Liminal Thinking and Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong. Between them they upset my apple cart a skosh. Not that I’ve fundamentally changed what I believe, but they convinced me of the difference between what we know and what we believe and why both have value.

When I finished using the tool, I thought the resulting statements were ridiculous. I put it aside for later when I’d have more time to either studiously ignore it, or actively ridicule it.

Didn’t happen.

In the past month, with days reaching 118º yes one-hundred-eighteen degrees I have been far less unhappy about the heat. Sure, we live indoors, using air conditioning like it was cheap (because comparing Phoenix to Sacramento it is; we’re paying 40% of what it used to cost us in Sacramento 7 years ago.)

Still, my attitude about the heat changed. And with it, some behaviors.

What Really Changed

Up north, you do everything midafternoon when it’s warm and sunny. When we moved south, I never changed that habit.

Shopping at 3pm in Phoenix is stupid. Because I already knew I hated the heat, I did what I did and hated it even more.

Did you know you can go shopping at 6am? Or 9pm?

The tiniest openness to new beliefs about the heat opened a crack into my psyche which turned into new actions, greater awareness, and less angst and whining.

You’ve heard it; you’ve said it: focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.

This tool was the catalyst for new thinking that’s making my life measurably more comfortable, physically and emotionally.

You Thought This Was a Writing Blog

Your turn.

Use the Reframe tool about your greatest writing challenge.

Come back here and share the text summary in the comments. Not later, when you see whether or not it works. As soon as you’re done.

Then come back in a month [I’ll post a reminder] and tell us what happened.

I’ll be doing the same thing in the AntiResistance forum. If you’d like to see my angst on full display, join me there. (Forum members, here’s that post: http://somedaybox.com/forum/general/reframing-a-writing-challenge/.)

Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment

Some raw unpolished thoughts on the article Secrets of the Creative Brain by Nancy C. Andreasen, subtitled A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

Andreasen writes: I’ve been struck by how many of these people refer to their most creative ideas as “obvious.” Since these ideas are almost always the opposite of obvious to other people, creative luminaries can face doubt and resistance when advocating for them.

Powerful realization from that: much of my reality feels like hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. When you go through life seeing things no one else does, and being mocked or pitied or shunned when you admit it, it’s no wonder we lose our emotional and mental balance.

… more … “Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment”

The 21st Century Creative: a podcast worth making time for

For the 3rd Monday in a row I’m taking more than an hour to listen to a podcast. I generally have little patience for podcasts; most have a very low signal-to-noise ratio. The 21st Century Creative, hosted by Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action, is all signal, no noise.

His first two guests were Scott Belsky of Behance and 99U, and Steven Pressfield, who doesn’t do interviews anymore—except when he does.

Eschewing the rush rush syndrome everyone thinks is appropriate these days, Mark takes his time, 60 to 90 minutes. Each guest ends the show with an artistic challenge; participate and you can win nifty useful books (and, not incidentally, grow artistically and personally.)

Make time for the 21st Century Creative podcast. Your art deserves it.

Create the Villain Your Hero Needs: Superb Infographic from David “Villain” Villalva

3 Ways to Create a Villain Who Audiences Want & Heroes Need [Infographic]David Villalva is a story nerd like me. Smart, friendly, smart, generous, and smart.

He created this superb infographic to explain how to create your story’s villain, and why doing it like this matters. Click to make it big.

Literary and Commercial Considerations in Self-Publishing

My thoughts on this excellent article by Nick Levey.

tl;dr re my comments

  1. the situation is fluid
  2. those too lazy to do the work of digging through the onslaught of independently published work are missing out, but perhaps they deserve to
  3. I am not embarrassed that I self-published and it is not a fall-back position, it is my first choice.

Maybe I need a tl;dr for my tl;dr

many-books

Quotes in italics (my comments in parentheses.)

shows just how uncomfortably firm the association is between traditional trade publishers and literary value (which we know doesn’t exist: publishing is an industry, it is commerce with primarily financial goals)

There are many possible reasons why literary fiction has fewer examples of successful self-published works, but perhaps the simplest answer is that readers of the genre are served sufficiently by traditional publishers (This is a powerful argument against self-publishing literary fiction to make money which means I’ll have to do it to make art)

a narrower and more volatile market instead of a broad and sustainable one (As author businesspeople, we must take the view of our own sustainability, not that of the market as a whole. If I can live on what I earn from writing, that means exponentially more to me than whether or not my genre or books as a whole are selling better or worse.)

Mainstream literary fiction, we can assume, has different assumptions and associations, and its readers are more reluctant to explore alternative modes of publication (Where does that conclusion come from? Curious about the data supporting the statement that readers of literary fiction are reluctant to explore non-traditional publishing avenues. Chicken, meet egg.)

David Vinjamuri . . . concludes that the “problem with Indie books is that there are so many of them.” (I restrain myself here, but, too many books? Egads.)

Such readers were often also unconvinced of the value of rereading (and later) price can be a key factor in the experience of its products (Note to self: non-rereaders want digital [which = disposable] so dial back my obsession with selling print.)

between 1830 and 1859, more than half of the novels serialized in Australia were written by just one man, John Lang (Great googlymooglies, that’s amazing.)

The spread of literary culture has always been furthered by treating novels as the commodities they are, subjecting them to the whims and peculiarities of the market in order to improve their uptake by the public. (Lovely thought. This is primarily where traditional publishing is missing the boat.)

gives authors the ability to choose how much their book is worth (Badly worded, that. Price and value are entirely disconnected.)

Many post-pressers are thus working only transitionally within this domain, while holding out for traditional validation. (This bothers me.)

(Learned a new word: stoush.)

it’s difficult to view current self-publishing as aligned with an underground when it is so dependent on the technology and the business model of Amazon. (A troubling truth. But why do I find it troubling?)

For Kloos, traditional publishing is still the desirable pathway for the production and dissemination of the literary object; self-publishing comes as a last resort. (I have no respect whatsoever for those who abandon what they believe is the proper course of action. If you think traditional publishing is “real” publishing then either do the work or opt out, but don’t settle.)

How My Writing Process Saved the Day, and How it Can Save Yours

More about planning and process: a guest post over at Bane of Your Resistance. Drop by and say hello, and watch for details about the process (new and improved over my previous version, I might add) in next week’s guest post.

Interview with Author Meg Wolfe: How Do You Write?

MegWolfe

After I’d read An Uncollected Death and An Unexamined Wife by Meg Wolfe, she let me pillage her brain for thoughts on how she pieced together the stories, the mysteries, the characters.

How long did it take to sort the plot details for book 1? Creating the bits of the mystery, I mean. A month? A year?

It took me sixteen months to write that first book—there were two two-month spells where I couldn’t do any writing because of health and family problems, but of course I kept stewing it over in my mind even when away from the computer. There was a lot of time spent on learning to plot, then changing from a four-part to a three-act structure, which “felt” better to me. I was also learning to use Scrivener.

I developed the characters along with the plot. It really is character-driven. What happened was that I had many, many strands of interrelated stories that I braided together, changing and tweaking details by working backwards, then forwards again. The last third, Act III, went really quickly, once I got the first two acts properly braided. The same thing happened in the second book, and in this third one, as well. The second book took me a little over eight months to write. This one has taken me ten–I had some health problems again during the summer which really slowed me down.

Why the French Resistance? Special existing knowledge on your part, or just interest?

… more … “Interview with Author Meg Wolfe: How Do You Write?”

Sharing a Secret at Elizabeth’s Place

Elizabeth Spann CraigGuest posted this week at Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog.

It’s called The Secret to Sales without Selling: Your Author Newsletter.

Fresh take on a familiar topic. Go show Elizabeth how much my readers love me, eh?

Longer Books Through Better Planning

Anodyne-cover-2015Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Twitterific writing links a couple weeks back led me to Ryan Lanz writing about stretching your word count.

In a moment of weakness, worried that Anodyne is too short, I followed it.

Expecting smarmy tricks, I found solid advice, which if implemented properly and with good motives is, what’s the phrase I’m looking for . . . oh yes; Good Stuff.

The 5 stretches listed by Lanz:

… more … “Longer Books Through Better Planning”

When is it Appropriate to Offer Unsolicited Criticism of Someone’s Art?

cat-up-a-treeThere’s an old story about a chap who goes on vacation and leaves his dull-witted brother to care for the household.

After a week, he calls home and asks how his cat is faring.

“Cat’s dead,” his brother blurts.

“What? It’s what? That’s no way to tell someone their beloved pet died! Ya gotta work up to it.”

His brother, eager to learn, asks how one might do that.

… more … “When is it Appropriate to Offer Unsolicited Criticism of Someone’s Art?”