Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Think, Just Do

The down side of my overactive imagination is that I can vividly imagine how hard things are going to be. For example, if I start thinking about going to the gym, I see myself changing clothes, getting in the car, suffering through a work out, coming home and showering, which when put all together in my mind seems like too much. Last week I heard someone say, "Don't think, just do," in reference to this very gym scenario. "Thinking is a trap," she said. "Just get your butt there." This is a smart person, a wise person, so this week, every time I got stuck thinking about going to the gym, I told myself, "don't think, just do." And it worked.

Drunk with success, I tried applying it to my writing. When I've found myself going down the mental road of "I don't want to write, I don't feel like it, I can't do it today, I don't know what to say, I don't know what to do next, I hate the stupid book, why did I ever begin this anyway, etc etc" I have told myself, "Don't think, just do." Here too, it works! The other morning I woke up and saw a piece of the manuscript on my night stand. I had never once tried to work on the book in bed, but I figured what the hell? Just do. So I started reading, and worked very happily for about an hour, lying in bed, in my pjs. What a gorgeous way to start my day.

This morning I woke up later than I wanted and didn't have time to do anything before I left for work. But I grabbed a few chapters and read them on the train. Snatching moments here or there to work on the book has been adding up to good work, good progress and good feelings. For the first time in awhile, I feel forward momentum again. Oh how I have missed you, forward momentum! Don't think, just do has spared me the agony that attends the procrastination. It has helped me get over that hump that feels insurmountable some days--the hump of beginning. Once I've begun I'm almost always happy, so why is it so hard to start? I don't know. But I'm going to use this trick for as long as it keeps working.

9 comments:

sulu-design said...

I was just having a conversation about this whole "don't think, just do" idea with Barry. I'd read a story in one of his running magazines of a guy in his late sixties who had run every single day of his life (including running in the hospital on a couple occasions when he had surgery) since the day he took up running. He talked about how much time he'd wasted during the years when he allowed himself to debate if he was going out for a run or not. In the end, he always went and was always happier for it, so one day he decided that he wasn't going to waste the time or energy on the mental struggle again. He was just going to do it. I've totally learned to apply this tactic to working out, but in other areas of my life, I could use some practice. Sounds like it's working for you... I'm taking note.

Greg said...

lowering your expectations helps with this too. If you think you need to work on something for hours or get get perfect results, it is hard to get started. Instead you can think, I'm going to write for 5 minutes and see how it goes. If it really stinks you can quit, but chances are you will stick with it.

sharigreen said...

This may be exactly the strategy I need right now. Thanks!

Caroline Steele said...

What perfect (and perfectly-timed) advice! I have the same problem of too much imagination... I'll try this out and attempt to conquer that problem. :)

bunnygirl said...

I followed your link from writerjenn's blog and I love this post.

I've discovered pretty much the same thing you did, that with some things in life it's best to not debate or ponder the what-ifs. Any activity we decide to make non-negotiable is best put on auto-pilot. I don't spend my first hour of the morning dithering over whether or not to put on clothes, feed the pets, or go to the office, so why should I make writing or exercise a subject of debate?

"Just do it" is more than just a marketing slogan.

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