Finally, I had to make a decision.
Now that I’ve gone back to school and earned my doctorate (2011), now that we’ve retired and relocated (2013), I finally have to decide what I want to be when I grow up.
I’ve been thinking about all this inchoately for some time, but, in a marvelous example of synchronicity, a recent writing prompt in the 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge made everything fall into place.
I had already decided that I was spreading myself too thin and needed to make changes to spend more time on my own writing. But when the journaling prompt asked me to have a talk with my inner critic, I was surprised at where the conversation went. All writers grapple with the inner critic, that internal voice that constantly tells us we have no right to write, no talent, nothing worth saying. I had barely started asking my inner critic to go easy on me when she interrupted and starting talking back.
And here’s what she had to say: You and I are not adversaries. In fact, I’m your writing best friend. I’m that alternate state of consciousness that takes over and does just about everything right when you’re in the zone, writing in flow. You know that we do your best work together. But you haven’t invited me to come visit you for quite a while.
And I had to admit that she was right. I haven’t written in flow since I finished my dissertation in the spring of 2011. I had forgotten how exhilarating that writing state feels and how good is the work that comes out of it. I’ll explain writing in flow in more detail in another post, but its most pertinent characteristic for this discussion is that it can be nurtured and cultivated. To court flow, the writer—or at least this writer—has to provide conditions conducive to that mental shift of gears that happens when flow kicks in.
So in my journal entry I agreed to once again offer her—let’s call her Flow and get her a big tricked-out name tag—what she needs to operate:
- meaningful writing projects
- real deadlines
- specific target audiences
- extended periods of uninterrupted writing time
For me, that final one has always been the most important. I’m sure some people can slip in and out of flow at short notice and for small bursts of time, but my Flow doesn’t work that way. She likes to move in and stay a while.
As a result of the compromise I’ve reached with Flow, I’ll be narrowing the focus of this blog to the following topics:
- journal writing
- memoirs and memoir writing
- therapeutic benefits of expressive writing
- creative nonfiction writing, both general advice and my own writing process
- psychology news as it pertains to these topics
Also, since one of my areas of study is the intersection of psychology and literature, I will try to create more interweaving between this blog, which emphasizes psychology and writing, and my literature blog, Notes in the Margin. To that end, I have changed to the same design theme for both blogs to create a sense of continuity for readers moving between them.
Unlike Peter Pan, I think I’m finally ready to grow up into who I want to be. Thanks for listening.
Flow and I would love for you to write something in the comment section below.