Dr. Antonio Damasio talks about why emotions are critical to the decision-making process. (We talked about that recently.)
You can watch the whole interview (just over an hour long) at Fora.tv.
Preservation of life is your unconscious mind’s primary function. Beyond breath and hunger it uses another tool to keep you alive: alertness to danger.
Because your unconscious is an ethereal non-physical entity, non-physical threats weigh the same as the physical. Whether the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train or a painful memory, the instinctive response is avoidance. Run from danger; that’s what your unconscious does. Most of the time, it’s a good bodyguard.
You’ve seen it in a movie or TV show: protected VIP convinces overzealous bodyguard to allow some latitude, provided safeguards are in place. Sure, kid, you can go to the zoo, but we’ll have a tracking device in your shoe and men in black at every gate.
Your unconscious is a bodyguard trying to protect you, not a terrorist trying to take you down.
What if you could negotiate some free time, give your bodyguard the morning off so you could write from your heart, pouring it all out, wheat and chaff together, spilling some of that internal truth onto the page? What if, for a little while, you made your unconscious feel safe, so it would stay out of the way while you go on a hot date with a great scene for your novel?
Sometimes, art spurts out like mustard from the sun-stricken picnic table. When this happens to me, it always produces something I love.
Once we have the basic skills, writing is a combination of persistence and getting out of your own way. More precisely, getting your conscious, the prefrontal cortex which usually drives the bus; er, your brain, out of the way of your unconscious, including the limbic system where your emotions live, the amygdala where your fears live, and other scary medical terms where other important truths hide out.
To be sure, it is the job of our conscious mind to navigate, to step in when unconsciousness won’t do.
For a writer, that stage is editing, not writing. Continue reading “Where Art Comes From When You Don’t Know Where It Comes From”
I’m going for a 60s health-ed movie feel in the title, in case you missed it.
Writing without emotion is pointless. If you don’t move your readers to feel something, you accomplish nothing. Even with non-fiction, teaching a topic requires moving your readers to care enough to latch on.
With fiction, emotion is everything.
It’s no wonder, then, that we fiction writers are a moody lot.
I have days of euphoria. I also have days in the doldrums. (Like when we have the rare phenomenon of 10 gloomy days straight here in the frozen north.)
A dear friend commented this morning that they were feeling down about their writing.
Steven Pressfield posted about the pure unadulterated panic induced by the research for his latest book.
It’s gonna happen. Continue reading “Writers and Their Emotions”
Your brain is a battlefield. Two warring forces wage a constant struggle for dominance.
Okay, they’re more like a couple teenagers fighting over who gets the window seat on a long drive. Chances are, you keep giving the same kid the window seat.
And putting the other kid in the trunk.