Archives for January 2012

Great Review of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific from the Simple Productivity Blog

This book picked me up and shook me. I started working on my novel again, stalled because I was thinking I hadn’t plotted it right (perfectionist anyone?) I also began to finish a quilt that has been languishing for 4 years because I was afraid to do it wrong (again? perfectionism?) While I read every book that I am asked to review, rarely do I find one that is so immediately and thoroughly applicable to my life. If you are a writer, this book is an absolute must read. If you’re not a writer, this book is still a read that should not be missed. LINK   … [Read more...]

Repost for 2012! A Reminder to Never Bash Yourself

Note: At the beginning of the year I report some of the previous year's most popular posts. My spring and summer have been somewhat tough. I mentioned my recent relationship breakup in another blog post. More recently, my cherished little dog, Orbit, has developed many health problems, and was recently hospitalized for several days. He's 15, so this wasn't entirely unanticipated, but it's still a huge blow. Although I've worked hard over decades to develop resilience, I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to handle his decline and eventual death - although I presume that, like the many others who have had to watch cherished companion animals decline and die, I'll get through it somehow. All this is by way of saying that, for more than a month, I didn't do much writing on The Seven Secrets of the Prolific. I know: ironic. But nowhere do I claim that you should be able to write at maximum capacity regardless of whatever else is going on with your life. We're not machines, we're complex beings; and to … [Read more...]

Love is Truth and Compassion

Robert Wright: "A thought experiment: Suppose you are a parent and you (a) watch someone else's toddler misbehave and then (b) watch your own toddler do the same. Your predicted reactions, respectively, are: (a) "What a brat!" and (b)"That's what happens when she skips her nap." "Now (b) is often a correct explanation, whereas (a) the "brat" reaction isn't even an explanation. Thus does love lead to truth. So, too, when a parent sees her child show off and senses that the grandstanding is grounded in insecurity. That's an often valid explanation - unlike, say, "My neighbor's kid is such a showoff” and brings insight into human nature. "Yes, yes, love can warp your perception, too. Still, there is an apprehension of the other - an empathetic understanding - that is at least humanly possible, and it would never have gotten off the ground had love not emerged on this planet as a direct result of Darwinian logic... "O.K., so your child isn't special. This doesn't have to mean she's not worthy of your love. It … [Read more...]

Writing Isn’t Hard!

I cringe whenever I hear someone say writing is hard because it's not - at least, not after you've overcome your perfectionism. Once you do that, then writing becomes pretty much effortless, the way it was for many of us when we were young and it was a natural form of self expression. The thing to do with your perfectionist inner critic is NOT to acquiesce to it or try to shut it down - tactics that only increase your fears and exacerbate the problem - but allow it to speak its piece. Here's how: First, recognize that the “creator” in you is fragile – not because you're weak but because creativity is challenging and the world unsupportive; also, most of us are also undermined by perfectionism, ambivalence and internalized oppression. Perfectionism causes us to set unrealistic goals and then, when we inevitably fall short, to bash ourselves via the inner critic in a desperate effort to get back on track. At that point, we can only think of one solution in the face of all that terror and abuse – to get … [Read more...]

"Why am I so hateful and a perfectionist?"

In a big rush this morning due to heavy teaching load, but had to post about this. Like most blogsters, I regularly check my stats to see how much traffic I have, where it's coming from, etc. Among other things, I see the search terms people use to wind up on my site. Last night, in the midst of all the usual terms - "perfectionism," "procrastination," "writer's block," "Hillary Retik", etc. - I found this: "Why am I so hateful and a perfectionist." And it kind of broke my heart. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you read this: You're perfectionist because you grew up in a perfectionist culture - as did your parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Very few of us get out unscathed. Perfectionism is rampant in the media, because perfectionist tropes such as *rags-to-riches *overnight success *lone genius succeeding *bullying coach leads "loser kids" to victory make good drama. Most advertising is also perfectionist. If I can convince you that you are ill-groomed, a bad housekeeper, a bad … [Read more...]

New Year’s Resolution: Do Less Housework!

Most people think of procrastination as a simple bad habit, but it's often much more than that: it's a strategy we employ when we're afraid of the outcome of an activity or project. So, someone who hates his job might procrastinate on looking for a new one because he's afraid of not getting any offers, or landing one that's even worse than his current one. A novelist with writer's block (blocks being an extreme form of procrastination) may be afraid of not selling her book, getting a bad review, or offending relatives or others with what she's written. Someone whose lifelong dream has been to start a business may procrastinate on doing so because he's afraid of failing - or succeeding and having many new responsibilities and demands placed on him. In the short term, procrastination works well: by not finishing (or starting!) your project, you are indeed protected from its scary potential outcome(s). In the long term, however, procrastination can lead to a bitter, unfulfilled life. So it's a good idea … [Read more...]