Friday, 24 August 2012

3 Bad Kinds of Thinking

Brain gears up for over thinking
For a writer, there are many reasons to put off writing.

For one, there's your real job, the work you get paid for. Often the last thing you want to do when you get back from the shop or office is to open the laptop and start writing.

And then there's the small matter of FAMILY, who would love you to succeed but don't want you to stop making lunch or decorating the bedrooms to do it.

Hot behind these come your HOBBIES - well, a person has to relax sometime, whether it's playing Wii golf, knitting a carpet or landscaping the garden.

And then there's thinking

Now there are different types of thinking. I speak from experience because I've done most. And it's not as if it's a bad thing to do - so far it's got the human race right up the evolutionary ladder to its present planet-damaging position.

But not all thinking is beneficial. As far as writing goes, it's just as much an impediment to action as watching TV or sleeping. So here are 3 types of thinking that are not going to help you get the blog post written, or that brilliant novel published.

The one most if not ALL writers are prone to is procrastination. I call this thinking about doing. This couldn’t be worse. Instead of writing, promoting, sending those letters off to the publisher, hounding your agent for a new contract (I wish), you are just putting it off by THINKING about it.

Try doing something instead.

That's right, sit down and get it out of the way now! I guarantee you'll feel a lot better about things.

The second sort of brain work to avoid is over thinking. Wondering about the world, its origin, meaning of life etc. Don't do it. Marvel if you will at the complexity of the world, the universe, the advances in scientific understanding. But don’t try to understand it. Or even wonder where you fit in. That's almost impossible to comprehend.

Anyway, I'm doing plenty of that thinking for all of us.

Lastly comes thinking about fame - delusional thinking. This is what drives countless ordinary folk to attend auditions for celebrity talent shows. It's a good idea to have an idea where you want to get to, but you need to travel the wooded path across the wasteland before you get to the Golden City.

Focus on small goals

You want to write a novel? First join a local writers' group. Take your work along and get some feedback on it. You'll realise you're nowhere near as good as you thought. Not even close. The reality is not one successful author got there by chance. All of them dedicated minutes, hours and years to the act of writing. Not thinking about writing, but getting the words on paper or into a computer. And they never stopped learning.

Instead, break your path to fame into manageable chunks. Focus on the first step ahead. You think you should do a course on creative writing? Book one up. Or perhaps spend a week researching characters and location. Place to write? Build an insulated shed at the bottom of the garden. Philip Pullman, Dylan Thomas and who knows how many others have done the same thing.

By ticking off the obstacles and targets you set the Golden City will get nearer. Eventually.

It just won't be as soon as you hoped.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thinking is BAD for you

man in chair

Like me, you’re a writer. You write books, aphorisms, novels, poems – you’re probably working on something at the moment: memoirs, lyrics, blogs, in short:


There. It’s out in the open; you were born to write. And now, while you’re on my metaphorical couch, you need to also acknowledge that you crave success. Whether it’s financial security, the Nobel prize, or the adoration of women (or men) - 99% of us want to be successful. That’s what we work toward, why we sit for hours scribbling notes or plotting unlikely scenes in fantastic novellas, or erasing unwieldy adverbs from tightly woven stanzas.

The good news is…

You've already been successful. If you’re reading this you are one of those wealthy enough to have a computer and a place to work. Dry, warm, free from distractions of starvation and thirst. It’s not enough, I know. That’s biological. You want to carry on evolving, getting better, working toward that success. And, as you live your comfortable life, you also find you have:


About your status, your position in life, the plight of the billions who haven’t yet achieved what you have. But I’m here to tell you – THINKING IS NO GOOD TO YOU. That’s right,

Thinking is bad for you

Wait – how can that be? Surely it’s thinking that has got me to this good place?

Well, no. Actually It was DOING that got you here. THINKING only stopped you DOING, and getting here quicker. Believe me I know. As someone who has spent years THINKING instead of DOING, I’m in a prime position to tell you. And I believe that:

Education is the problem

For all of our formative years we are taught that thinking is good. Thinking will get you out of a hole. Thinking will get you a better job, more money, qualifications etc.

Wrong. It won’t. Only DOING will get you all these things.

OK, I know, it’s good to have a plan. And working things out, setting goals, learning ways and methods to get where you want to get both practical and necessary. As a writer that’s part of your makeup. But to be successful you need to promote your writing, and that means ACTION. And here we come to an unwavering TRUTH:

THINKING is great, but only if it leads to a solid dose of DOING.

(In the next post we’ll look at the 3 worst barriers to productivity as a writer. Please SUBSCRIBE to this blog by email if you want to keep up with the discussion, and also for some free stuff that will be issued from time to time. Oh and thanks, as always, for your interest.)