Monday, September 24, 2012

Putting the Slut Monkeys to Bed or How I Defeated My Internal Editors


Monkeys clip art             
                                                       

I used to call my internal editor "Mom" but I realized recently that I have more than one internal editor and they sure aren't Mom! So now I was facing internal editors that were telling me I'm no good, no one wants to read what I write and why bother, as well as editors saying "That word? Why in the world are you using that word?" and "Shouldn't you use a semi-colon there and hey, you're not supposed to use any exclamation marks." And the worst one wasthe one that kept telling me I can get to it later.

There were so many of these bothersome things I knew I couldn't name them all and keep them straight in my head. And I knew if I called one of them by the wrong name, it would get all huffy and give me an even harder time. In desperation one day, I screamed "Would all of you slut monkeys please go find another corner?" It shut them up for a few minutes but then they were back in force. But now I had a name for those pesky internal editors – Slut Monkeys.

But I still had no idea how to shut them up until I truly needed them, when it was time to edit my first drafts, and second, and third. I tried to appease them by telling them they are welcome to hang around but aren't to bother me until I invited them. They just laughed and turned up the volume.

I resorted to listening to the monkey that advocated procrastination. The TV had something interesting on and I'd write later. I really did need to see if Amazon had posted any more free Kindle books I wanted to download. My ideas could wait until after… You name it, the monkey found some reason to talk me into NOT writing. The monkey was winning and it knew it.

Then one day, on a whim, I pulled out the writing prayer beads my partner, Lisa, bought me for Christmas a few years ago. I carry them with me everywhere I go and pull them out and lay them across the top of the keyboard when I write. But on this day, I held them in my hand and did a guided meditation, moving my hand from bead to bead as I named my intentions for the day – none of which had anything to do with writing.

When I finished I realized I had gone deeper than I had for a long time and wondered if the beads had anything to do with it. I mentioned the phenomenon to a friend who also meditates and she admitted she uses prayer beads all the time – different ones for different types of meditation and prayer. She asked me why none of my intentions were about writing and I was at a loss. After considerable thought I realized it was the slut monkeys' fault. They had intimidated me into believing I wasn't truly a writer.

"Nonsense," my friend said. "Meditate with the intention of writing as soon as you're done and let me know what happens."

The next day I followed my friend's advice and low and behold the monkeys left me alone. I could almost hear them snoring in the background. In calming my mind, I also calmed them and they were able to rest up to bother me later about something that had nothing to do with writing.

Now meditation with the intention of writing is a part of my writing preparation. When I take a shortcut and don't meditate, the monkeys rejoice and are they ever loud in their partying.

Will meditation put your slut monkeys to rest, at least temporarily? I don’t know. You'll have to try it for yourself. But it works for me and not just for writing. I try to find time to quiet my mind before tackling any kind of task that uses a lot of brain cells. I'm able to concentrate and be much more productive without the monkeys' constant yammering that I'm doing it wrong and shouldn't even be trying in the first place.

So what do you do to prepare to write? Any routines, superstitions, must dos for you?

2 comments:

Kaycee Hawn said...
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Silverhearts7 said...

Slut Monkeys! LOL! I think I have a whole troop of them. You should teach your guided meditation techniques to other authors so we can all shut them up.