"Thought Virus" Protection for Writers

Jane kindly invited me to guest blog here on There Are No Rules while she’s enjoying some R&R this week, and I happily agreed. You may recall that the last time I posted as a guest here, my stay was unexpectedly extended when Jane became stranded in Thailand — so let’s hope for her sake that she returns as scheduled on Monday!
What better way to kick off a week of guest blogging than to give a shout out to another guest blogger? After all, we fill-in writers have to stick together. I always enjoy a good dose of Zen Habits, and today’s post from Steven Aitchison really struck a chord with me–especially because I’m in the planning stages of the February issue of WD, which will focus on creativity.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out “Virus Protection for the Mind” here. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
This post immediately got me thinking about how these “thought viruses” can infect the writing life. How often do you get excited about a new idea, only to have doubt creep in the minute you face the blank page? Writers always talk about the struggle of trying to silence our inner critics, our inner editors. Back when I was working as an editor of books both by and for visual artists, they’d often discuss similar challenges. One of my artist/authors called this her inner gremlin, and would draw him in an attempt to put him out of her head.
But Aitchison points out that these “thought viruses” aren’t separate entities from our creative minds–and recognizing this can be empowering, because it means this: They’re something we have the power to control. Why not arm ourselves with strategies for harnessing those viruses before they take hold of our thought processes?
What are some of your ways of putting those thoughts on the shelf, as Aitchison suggests, so you can move forward? I welcome your comments here!
Happy Monday,

Jessica Strawser
Editor, WD

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0 thoughts on “"Thought Virus" Protection for Writers

  1. Lindsay Price

    Oh the thought virus. What an awesome way of putting it! When I get like that, and I do, I strive to accomplish something – a submission, 15 minutes of straight uninterupted writing, write a blog post. Usually when I dive into work, and focus on the work instead of the virus, the virus tends to fade…

  2. judy b.

    Rather than fight the thoughts, which tends to make them fight back, I sit for 5 minutes and clear my mind of everything. I just breathe, and watch the thoughts swirl around and out of my head. Often an inspiration will come into the empty space, and I write it down immediately. After the five minutes I sit at my desk to write.

  3. Jessica Strawser

    JSB: You can always be counted upon for a wonderful suggestion!

    Darrelyn: I love the idea of consciously taking this "thought replacement" approach.

    Thanks to both of you for weighing in!

  4. Darrelyn Saloom

    I think it’s important to gently replace a negative thought with a positive one. Because it is easy to let doubts, because they grow like a virus, take hold of "our thought processes." And really, it’s a matter of habit. Start small, become aware of those negative gremlins and gently scoot them out of the way. The key is to be gentle about it. And loving, always.

    And then get to work like James Scott Bell suggests in the post above. Let her rip. Go! Start! Right now!

  5. James Scott Bell

    A good and perpetual question, Jessica. One exercise I like is the "page long sentence." When in doubt, write. Fast. No punctuation, let the words flow on the scene or moment you’re working on. Get into the heat of producing words. Inevitably, something bubbles up that you didn’t expect, and you’re excited about writing again.


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