Writing

Humans = Emotional Creatures Bound Together By Stories

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Author and marketer, Dale Carnegie famously said: “When dealing with people, remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” The popular belief that “emotions are the curse of logic” places logic and emotion in an antagonist relationship. However, as Carnegie points out, once we accept humanity as more emotionally-driven than rational, we can make peace with our nature.

Recent neuroscience concerning decision-making seeks to identify just how our mental processes works. In Forbes’s “How The Most Common Emotions Affect Business Decision Making And What To Do About It,” Erik Larson claims that “scientists have found that without emotions we [would] become completely ineffective at making decisions.” Neurologist, Antonio Damasio, came to a similar conclusion in his book, Descartes’ Error. Damasio claimed that the separation of mind and body, of logic and emotion was in fact an “error.” 

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There is also a profound connection between memory and emotion based on our capacity to create and store powerful internal images. Ask someone to recall where they were when they learned of the 9/11 attacks and most likely, they can paint a visual picture of the scene for you. As human beings, our combination of memory backed by potent feelings allows us to recall important information in a truly functional way. The stronger the emotion, the more powerful the memory, the more it resonates in our being.

So where does logic come in? One place it can be seen is in classical rhetoric. Rhetoric, defined as the combination of persuasion and argumentation, is derived from the teachings of Aristotle and Plato. The main thrust of classical rhetoric suggests the emotional impact of any narrative is essential to the retention of its meaning.

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The power of narrative is something that should not be overlooked. As the co-creators of our own lives, our ongoing role is to inspire, compel, and persuade. No matter what we do or what business we are in, we have the capacity to shape meaning through hearts and minds (emotionally and logically.)

Every day we write the stories of our lives through running narratives. This doesn’t mean all of us are writing things down or penning articles or books—instead, each of one of us is constantly telling stories to get what we want. Just think about the stories we tell every day to get what we desire. The server informs his table how the fresh salmon came to be on the menu. The lawyer narrates her client’s actions in court.

Once we recognize life is made up of lots of little stories told by different people and that these are most effectively understood through the filter of our emotions, we can better achieve what we seek.

The power of the narrative extends to all facets of our lives. Let’s use it wisely.

At Ink Wordsmiths, we specialize in content marketing empowering professionals to connect with their audiences in an emotional way that converts. If you are interested in learning more about our process, contact me today @hello@inkwordsmiths.com.

How to be Extremely Productive by Doing Nothing

This blog is part of a series of helpful pointers for fellow writers in the “The Six-Figure Writer” Community

We live in a day and age where everything is about productivity. Increase profits, reduce costs, sleep less, work more. There’s a cultural anxiety. We buy books on time management and how to get organized. We live in a perpetually caffeinated state just to create more time in order to be more productive.

For a professional writer, productivity is determined primarily by self-governance and the ability to focus. We measure our productivity in terms of word count and pages written in a day along with the quality of what we write. Rather than live and die by the clock like most professions do, we`re slaves to document size.  

Rather than be told what to do in terms of tasks and duties, like most jobs, we writers must be in a perpetual state of creation. We have to pull words from our imagination and somehow group them together in a way that is engaging and at the very least, coherent.

Therefore, in order to create, we must make the space and time to allow ourselves to do so. As much as we may love the thrill and joy of writing, it does require mental strain to consistently conjure up words. Far too many writers hinder their creativity by not allowing themselves time to decompress. Space for yourself is needed in spite of the urge and panic of “being productive”.

That’s why it’s important you make time every day to be the opposite of productive. To do nothing mentally demanding. This even includes reading, because reading requires your brain to work. In other words, it’s necessary to be lazy.

How much time should you put into this non-activity?

30 minutes a day. 30 minutes is the optimal amount of time for your mind to decompress and recharge. Take a walk, nap, sit and watch mindless TV, browse the Internet. Just do something where your mind is on autopilot.

This seemingly wasteful time will provide two important things to optimize your writing.

1)      Give you a Break

Think of your brain like a muscle. You don`t work the same muscle, day in, day out without taking some kind of break, do you? Your brain needs brain-breaks too in order to function at its top performance level.

2)      Make You More Creative

By giving your brain needed rest, it will help you avoid writer’s fatigue and writer’s block. Practicing non-activity will also help alleviate stress, providing you separation from your work. A relaxed brain generates better quality content. 

“Big Magic” and the Provocative Theory of Ideas as Living Entities

Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on inspiring creativity, Big Magic contains a startling notion. It is Gilbert’s unusual contention that ideas exist on this planet in the same way other sentient entities, such as humans, cats and bugs do. Unabashed in her assertion, Gilbert owns her words by suggesting not only does magic exist — but it exists in the same deliriously whimsical way that say, Hogwarts does.

So what are these disembodied entities Gilbert speaks of? Are they platonic ideals our earthly realm deigns to duplicate as droll but ultimately derivative facsimiles of the one true source? No. Ideas exist in the psychic sphere, beckoning us to bring them forth as physical manifestations. The only hindrance to their expression is our own creative will.

Gilbert speaks of inspiration in the same way the ancient Greeks used to talk about genius. People weren’t geniuses. They possessed a genius: an attendant inner spirit assigned to each person at birth. The modern conception of creativity usually features an individual tapping into the flow, “being in the zone.” A more alchemical, non-rational viewpoint such as Gilbert’s or even the teachings of Carlos Castaneda, would suggest that life is a lot weirder than we presently fathom. When we usher in ground-breaking concepts from the deep recesses of our unconsciousness, we are not so much plucking proto-thought forms from the Idea Tree, we are actually summoning forth ideas as beings.

Likening ideas to freewheeling Jinns evokes a kind of pleasing fairy tale aspect to the creative process. It suggests that powerful thoughts have a kind of plasticity and can flitter in and out of people’s heads, symbiotically interacting with their hosts. If the person is willing to put in the necessary time and focus towards manifesting the idea, then the entity will remain loyal, whispering in their ear sweet nothings until both the creator and the created are validated by the effort. Likewise, an idea not nourished, not lovingly wrought, will engender nothing corporeal and will assuredly dissipate into the ether before passing to the next willing collaborator.

Such unusual meditations on creativity’s nature will assuredly inflame critics eager to denounce anything smacking so highly of the suspect mystic. But even those ideas have their rightful place if we are to consider Gilbert’s provocative notion. More interesting than that old debate is the pragmatic implication. Do we dare birth heart-stopping ideas when they playfully dance on the edges of our dreams? Shall we take the lead of fearless thinkers, like Copernicus, two-stepping with alien thoughts and thus birthing our Heliocentric cosmology? Shall we shrink from the sight of wild new economic paradigms? Groundbreaking artistic forms? Divergent new modes of existing?

One last thing. Gilbert points out that what makes humans so special is our ability to be creative. Excavated works of art predate practical antiquities by thousands and thousands of years. That means the primal urge towards creativity was far more pressing than the rigors of farming and livestock domestication. We were put here to be creative. Let’s find ways to live up to that ideal.