When I finish my self-assigned writing for the day and reward myself with a game of mah jong, I win the game. Not always the first time, but by the second or third time. As opposed to the hundredth time if I play mahjong before I write.
Mah jong has been a serious problem for me in the past; it’s eaten hours of my life. It’s just dumb luck I’ve not become addicted to anything more lethal to my system. And it’s eaten hours because when I think “just one more game. Just ’til I win.” Let’s be real: that’s not an actual thought in my head. It’s some neurotransmitter doing its thing.
But sinking into deep writing alters my sense of time, and apparently also expands my intuition. I seem to see the board better, and I’m pretty sure I’m not consciously thinking about the game, I just do the game … and when I win so quickly, I don’t want to hit the “play again button.” I want to return to my writing.
It’s like the track coach who my mommy friend with a runner-daughter gushed about: “He’s amazing. He’s convinced the kids that when they do well, the reward is to work harder.”
I’ve no doubt that her daughter’s coach is amazing. And I also don’t doubt that those kids are experiencing the deeply satisfying flow and shift in consciousness that comes from immersion in an activity that takes us out of ourselves.
Another manifestion of getting out of ourselves: Check out this link, which I found at the Good Men Project. It shows “murmuration” aka, free-scale correlation, and it is a pretty good representation of what it feels like when I’m flowing with my writing. Complete with the stunned giggle at the end. [First few seconds are still frames — also like writing at the start: stop-n-go-ish.]
Show up, allow yourself to be in the moment with your writing. The reward may be more work, but what satisfying, laughter-inducing work it is. Ah.
Wow, interesting concept–the reward for good work is simply that you’ve done good work. I would say I’ve experienced this myself without having words for it until now. I work from home so self-motivation is crucial. Days when I get down to business right away and resist the temptations of FB and laundry and “just 15 minutes of Netflix” are so much more satisfying (and conducive to even more productivity) than days when I struggle to keep on task.
I’m right there with you on the experience of satisfaction when I start the day with my writing … and find myself easily thrown off (snow day for the kids, stomach virus, etc.) … I’ve been experimenting with stopping the writing when I’m really excited about it, and leaving myself a note about what I think I want to do next. This has proven itself useful thus far, tho’ stomach viruses are more powerful than the best of intellectual intentions 😉