Saturday, February 3, 2018

First-Class Creative Work

Psychotherapist Eric Maisel is a creative coach for artists and writers, a regular contributor to Writer's Digest, and a published novelist in his own right. Dr. Maisel believes we writers seldom realize our creative potential because we allow our minds to dwell on what he calls "second-class work."

It's easy to go down innumerable rabbit trails instead of stalking an essential fact. We come across a bit of trivia that fascinates us, so we convince ourselves that it's worth a few minutes' detour. Before we know it, the library is closing and we still don't have what we need.

Our brains are always active, even while we sleep. They can make grocery lists, solve crossword puzzles, and memorize World Series statistics. They can also devise peace treaties, discern complex mathematical relationships, and write books that change the course of human history. We are free to choose where we'll focus our mental energy. We do choose, moment by moment, whether we realize it or not. Maisel says:
...The brain will do second-class work unless it is ordered or invited to do first-class work. Why? Why won't it do first-class work automatically? For the same reason that you and I take the elevator and not the stairs. For the ease of it (Deep Writing, 18-19).
Any serious writer knows that writing isn't easy. In particular, writing a novel requires laser-like disciplined concentration. If we occupy our minds with Facebook posts, weather forecasts, game shows, and innumerable other distractions, we won't make much progress on our writing.

So how will you employ your mind today, first-class work or second-class work?

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