Monday, September 27, 2010

My Zen-Zone

This weekend I wasn’t very productive. Which is a shame, because I had a lot of time. But all I did was dig out my NaNoWriMo story of 2008, and read it. I think it’s got potential, but it’s not quite finished, and it’s not my current number-one project. My current number-one project would have needed a lot more concentration to work on than I was able to muster. Editing is more time-consuming, more difficult, and more nerve-wracking than reading and remembering. And my nerves were wracked enough already by personal things that had nothing to do with writing, but completely got in the way of my Writing-Zen, as I call it.

My personal Zen Zone looks something like this.

When I’m in my Zen-Zone, I can write for hours; ideas pour forth so quickly one after the other that my fingers can hardly keep up, yet typos are few and far between. Time becomes meaningless. Hunger or thirst don’t exist, unless my characters are feeling them.
It sounds like a cliché, like something out of an inspirational movie of a creator of some sort who suddenly finds his lost muse. But that’s the way it is for me. Or at least, the way it can be.

The trouble is finding my way into this Zen-Zone. When I was younger, it was easier to find it. I think it’s because I didn’t worry so much about everything. Although ‘worry’ is maybe too strong a word – I just didn’t have as much other stuff on my mind, potentially important life-changing stuff, as I do now.

So how do I brush off those niggling little real-world worry-warts and dive into my other, self-created and -inflicted world of fun and peril?

First of all, I obviously have to sit down in front of the laptop, open up the file, and begin with whatever I have planned. Easier said than done. Sometimes the words on the screen seem to have been written in a different language, they make that much sense to me. Occasionally, I can write myself into the Zen-Zone by just putting my fingers on the keys and starting to type. It will take a while, and the beginning is usually bumpy and has to be deleted later on, but it gets me to greener scriptures.

Sadly, this is the exception, not the rule nowadays. A lot of other think-stuff gets in the way, creates a barrier on the path to my Zen-Zone. Sometimes I find the right button to push, and I get through, but often the barrier is insurmountable, and I get the feeling I’m trying too hard, which doesn’t do any good either.

Even Calvin knows this. LOL

On Storytellers Unplugged I read a post by Brian Hodge titled Ritualize Your Writing: A Shortcut Into Creative Productivity where he talks about the importance of rituals in our everyday lives; little gestures, sounds or thoughts, that transform us into another state of being.  Hodge describes a ritual as „… a shortcut. A bridge. A wormhole in space between two distant galaxies that can get you from one to the other much quicker than if you were to traverse the full gulf between. When compared to the mundane places we often occupy, what is writing, then, if not a higher, more resonant state of mind?”

Nicely put. That higher, more resonant state of mind is my Zen-Zone; a ritual is the straight path to it. The question is: what ritual?

So far, I haven’t found my shortcut, my bridge over the barrier to that straight path. Maybe it’s there, and I just haven’t realized what it is yet. It’s almost like the question of what came first, the egg or the hen; it’s difficult to find something you can only find by getting where it’s supposed to help you get to. Make any sense?

I think I will try to meditate before I sit down in front of the computer in future. I meditate every day, or try to, anyway, and it does help to clear my mind, if only for a while. Hopefully, that ‘while’ is all I need to get to my Zen-Zone when my path there is worry-barrier free. I could make up a new mantra for when I meditate before writing, and then, maybe, at some point, I’ll only need to think that mantra, and it will beam me straight up to Zen-land, Scotty-style.

Now all I need is a cool associational mantra…

Oh, and Calvin has something to add…

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