Are you writing for love or money?
That may not matter — new research suggests that you’ll be more effective if you focus on the experience, rather than on the rewards.
This fascinating article, How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back :: Articles :: The 99 Percent, reports:
“Fishbach and Choi think that staying focused on our goals detracts from the inherent pleasures of the activities we need to pursue to achieve those goals. Consistent with this, they found that the students at the gym who stayed focused on their goals tended to say afterwards that the exercise felt more of an effort, as compared with the students who were focused on the experience itself. “
In this blog post, Writing Becomes Easy, When You Love It, I said:
I created this blog way back in 2006 to help writers to write for money. That’s always been the focus. Unfortunately, this focus gives new writers (and experienced writers who should know better) the impression that writing for money is all about the money.
While I agree with Samuel Johnson that “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money,” you’d better love writing when you write for money, or the money you make will be the hardest money you’ve ever earned.
If you’re just focused on your goals, writing becomes harder than it needs to be. On the other hand, when you focus just on what you’re doing as you write — when you get into a state of flow — you’ll become inspired. Time passes, and you’re not aware of it.
Here’s a video of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi on creativity and flow. He wrote a ground-breaking book on flow; track it down, it’s worth reading.
Here are some tips on getting into a state of flow:
* Relax before you write. I like to read PG Wodehouse for a few minutes. He always relaxes me and makes me smile;
* Decide that you’ll enjoy the experience of writing, and won’t make any demands on yourself — lower your expectations, in other words;
* Use tools which you enjoy. I love pens and ink, and start most projects by writing a page or two in longhand, often in green or violet ink. (Yes, I know it’s a weird habit, but what can I say? It kickstarts my creativity; I’ve no idea why…)
* Expect that it will take anywhere from ten to 15 minutes for you to get into a state of flow. If you have children, close the door so that you can concentrate. Or go and write somewhere you won’t be disturbed. (I have a friend who writes in his car.)
Try it. When you sit down to write; just focus on the experience. You’ll get more enjoyment from your writing, and you’ll be more effective, too.