Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A writer wrote to me:
"well, I have to say, this is the first time I've been excited about this damn intro ever. "

The first thing I did in writing back was to emphasize this. But I want to emphasize it more, because we can use this kind of thing as a tool to help us.

What I think is important here is that this writer's excitement was coming from a place of struggling with the work, from having someone (me) challenging the presentation and demanding (suggesting), and from putting in a lot of effort rewriting: "I decided to take a risk, and reorganize a few things."

As I noted, a few days ago, when talking about the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, if we can get through the difficulty of getting started, we can have what are the most exhilarating experiences of our lives.

When we do have such experiences, it's worthwhile to remember them. Not that we won't, but if they're fresh and we set them in our minds as examples of what happens when we're willing to work through the difficult spots, then we have more positive motivation to help pull us through the difficult spots.

I was talking with another writer today and she was telling me about all that she had to do, but her spirits were high, so all that she had to do was viewed largely with excitement and positive anticipation. She's finding that she's accomplishing more and it feels easier because she is able to connect with the excitement that comes with her growing understanding of all the different aspects of her project.

So, when we have one of those moments of elation, it's worth taking a moment to remember the effort that brought us to that moment--to inscribe more deeply in our brains the connection between the effort and the payoff.

Most of us have a pretty strong inscription in our brains that work is hard and onerous. And most of us can remember some of the non-emotional rewards that come from work (money, recognition, signatures on the dissertation signature page, etc.), but do we remember the very real sense of elation that comes from engaging to the limit of our ability?

If we feel one of those moments of real excitement, it's worth taking a moment to look back and see what got us to that point.

No comments: