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/.)

Write Drunk. Edit Sober. Is That Right?

Apparently Wednesday comes a day late this week. Still sorting this new posting schedule. Glad you’re here.

Papa H famously said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”

Just to be totally clear that I’m not advocating alcohol abuse, the point is that made by Gustave Flaubert in a letter to Gertrude Tennant (her daughter Dorothy married the explorer Henry Stanley.)

Flaubert wrote Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

solid old tree in the wild weather

There is a natural balance between order and chaos. You will have a certain amount of each in life, in your personality, in your art. … more … “Write Drunk. Edit Sober. Is That Right?”

Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum

sea the pauseAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It can make writers collapse in a gibbering heap in the corner, which might also be dull.

Yesterday I was telling you to keep your momentum. Today I’m telling you to take a break. Coping with conflict is part of the writer’s life. Here’s my perspective on how to balance these opposing needs.

… more … “Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum”

What Are the Biggest Changes in 21st Century Publishing?

Control over launching. Nobody has to wait to be picked.

Control over quality. You choose the editor, cover designer, interior layout, marketing. All of it.

Control over profits. You have a hope of affecting sales by the other things you control.

Expectation. Publishing a non-fiction is rapidly becoming an expectation for an entrepreneur. I frequently ask folks who’ve shared something brilliant “Where can I buy your book?”

Next question: When are you going to do something about it?

(Because this is such a short post, I’m including an incredibly cute photo of my Little One from a long time ago.)

Aw; isn't she cute?

Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1126065 by BarbaraDin http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BarbaraDinA longer diatribe about marketing your self-published book. This is a year-long class, which I’d be glad to give if y’all are interested.

Publishing is in the greatest upheaval since Gutenberg. Supporters of traditional publishing will tell you it’s the only choice, or you’re not a real author.

I’ll take the opposing view: the only rational choice, from both the artistic and commercial perspectives, is to pick yourself, own the process, and reap the rewards. Here’s why:
… more … “Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing”

Free: It’s Not a Price, It’s a Strategy

Some insist that you have to give your first book away. Others claim that free means “worthless” and they won’t do it.

Free is good. If I’m talking to a prospective client, and I can impress them with my expertise and enthusiasm by mailing them a copy of one of my books that’s pertinent to our conversation, I’ve spent $7 on marketing to get what could be a $2,000 client. If I email them the Kindle version, I’ve spent zero.

What’s important to remember is that free isn’t a price. It’s a strategy.

Just posting a copy online with a price of zero is not strategic.

images http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1120086 by Laura Morariu http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lauralucia
… more … “Free: It’s Not a Price, It’s a Strategy”

Use a Self-Publishing Company or DIY?

Publishing is in a state of flux. Every variation of publishing is possible today, from throwing it over the transom to an agent who handles it all, to doing every single step yourself.

image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1093389 by http://www.sxc.hu/profile/dlnnyIn between are various levels of self-publishing, defined to some extent by the balance of responsibility and risk shared by the publisher and the author. Understanding those differences is vital to your success. When I was asked the question in the title the first part of the answer was getting our definitions straight.
… more … “Use a Self-Publishing Company or DIY?”

To the Self-Important Member of the Traditional Publishing Industry Who Wouldn’t Appreciate This

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1271302 by dimitri_c http://www.sxc.hu/profile/dimitri_cReading a public forum today, I ran across a lengthy comment by a member of the traditional publishing industry.

I was enraged.

Since their comments made it clear they’re incapable of understanding this, and since I’d rather start a range war on my own soil, I thought I’d share my response here.

… more … “To the Self-Important Member of the Traditional Publishing Industry Who Wouldn’t Appreciate This”