cloud of cereberal liesOne thing I’m learning— “I’ve learned” would be a lie—is that there are no short cuts on the Road Less Written. That is, unless you do actually want to take a road to writing less.

But when it comes to listening to gurus, we’re always tempted by the most unreliable one: our brains. Our so-called centers of higher thought, the very organ that should be busy helping us plot out an optimal path to success, can sabotage us.

Sure, it provides inspiration, strategy, and common sense. However, it also peppers us with false rationales. We get caught up in delusions of grandeur, denial – not to mention feelings of hopelessness and discouragement.

So why do we buy into the load of shit our rationalizing cerebral cortex spits out…?

Because we want it all.

We’re not looking for a short cut, we’re looking for everything. Writers are creative beings, ergo we dream. Big. It’s not in our nature to be realistic and grounded. We want perfect presentable children, great marriages, immaculate passable-by-Child-Protective-Service’s-guidelines houses. And we want that while we’re grinding out publishable, salable works. Maybe even Pulitzer Prize winning works. Not to mention the fact that in our dreams, we’re not bound by the constraints of linear time.

Because we believe in our muse.

Okay, leave out the “we” stuff. My muse is more ADHD than I am. Anytime I’m stressed in any way (80% of the time), she goes and hides like the ninny she is. But other writers, at least I’ve been led to believe, have muses that keep them at the keyboard long after bedtime and spew out whole dialogues in perfect syntax. Until they don’t.

When the bright light of inspiration does burn dim, writers feel betrayed. Goals and their implementation strategies (we all have them, right? ) seem as ephemeral as the leftover puffs of smoke.

Because the truth is scary.

When things are scary our brains become the masters of trickery and delusion. It’s a lot easier to embark on a journey of being a writer if you don’t face the facts. It might be hard. Maybe even outright discouraging. You may have to let something else go, like TV-viewing, mowing the lawn, coaching kids, or earning a living wage.

And avoiding those truths feeds us right back into the vicious cycle of wanting it all.

In Conclusion…

The brain is hard-wired for survival, not success. When we’re tired, it encourages us to sleep. When we’re stressed, it provides the impulse to drop everything and go outside and jump in the leaves. That means, when we’re not in a life and death situation, a bullshit meter can come in handy.

You know the metaphors and you’re a master at applying them.

Denial is a siren; tie yourself to the mast as you float down the rapids of authorship. Dig your muse out from under the shoes in the closet and whip her into shape. Learn to recognize the lies.

Oh yeah, and eat your vegetables.

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