Brain talk: When the limbic system is right on track.
The limbic system is sneaky. It knows things before the cortex. The limbic system is what triggers when you have that FEELING somethin’ just ain’t right. That’s how it works. The limbic system is the emotional
warning system, the problem with that is, it doesn’t have words. Emotion is its only language. The cortex must step in and figure out how to put into words how we are feeling. The cortex can then break down the trigger and create a game plan. What in God’s name does this have to do with writing? Hang on to your knickers and we will find out.
Wow- that was an intense bit of reading. I am on page 156 learning more about the power of our brains…well, some of our brains. Mine must be soaking in a vat of coffee before any of that can happen. That is what is in my cuppa. I am nibbling apples and noosa yogurt- total yummers! So, go grab your copy of Rosanne Bane’s masterpiece, a fresh cuppa, and your own yummy nibbles and let’s get to this. Go one. I’ll wait.
What took you so long? Geeesh.
Do you remember when you were a kid your teacher may have had a big chart on the wall for work completed, or books read, or good behavior. Do you remember the feelings you had when you received a gold star? I know right! It felt amazing. But, do you remember when you got a sad face or a red circle. Boooo! It mattered. The emotion that went along with the sticker was real. That was your limbic system triggering.
What you also learned from that massive chart was rewards were important. Tracking your activities during the Process, Self-care, and Product Time stages will allow you to see work done well and work done because you had to. Remember, on page 151 there is a habit tracking chart, or, better yet, create your own based on your needs and your work requirements. There is no shame in buying yourself a sleeve of gold stars, but you must be true to yourself. If it was not a gold star day then don’t give yourself one. You will not improve if you lie to yourself. If you want Rosanne’s charts you can find the PDFs at:
One cool idea is to have a treasure chest. Children’s writer Peter Pearson has a lovely box where he drops a gold coin into each day after he has successfully written. On days where he struggles, he lifts the lid of that box and reminds himself he could do it. His proof? The collection of coins already in the box reminding him of his past successes.
Why rewards work: Dopamine. Plain and simple. When you receive a reward, the brain releases the feel-good juice. Dopamine brings pleasure, energy and confidence. It brings with it a partner, acetylcholine, which helps the brain pay attention to what is happening. You see, it makes you pay attention to the pleasure you are feeling from the reward you have just received. It now wants more. Dopamine reinforces the memory. Together they are screaming, “Pay attention to this; this is worth repeating.”
Now, there are people out there that believe writing is its own reward, and if you feel that way, good on ya. But the reality is, those who have that belief also struggle to write. They may have the desire, but blocks will happen. What you must understand is rewards don’t have to be something extravagant. No, it does not have to be a gold coin dropped in a box. It can be a hard-earned nap. It can be a Tootsie Roll from the bowl near your office door. You get to take one as you walk out after a good day of word hunting. Your reward is YOUR reward. You choose.
What is your reward?