Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Writing to Dopamine – Winning With Goals Set
As writers we all use our brains – a lot. But truly, how often do we give some consideration to that – to our brains, how much that brain does for us, how tricky it can be? What’s going on up there. Even when you’re thinking you’re thinking about other things. There are many things going on at many levels all the time in our brains. Many conversations co-existing inside your head.
But what I want to mention today is the brain’s desire for accomplishment (for want of a better word). What do I mean by that? Well, I’ve done some reading and what I understand is your brain loves short, easy-to-achieve goals. In fact it’s vital that you supply those.
And once you supply that and the brain is happily releasing dopamine (it’s actually a drug) into your system (the reward sector of your brain where we find pleasure, learning and the motivation to strive for higher goals) you’ll enjoy greater ability to concentrate and be more focused. But even better, the chemicals in your brain inspire you to want to experience again whatever the activity was that caused that chemical to release. See where I’m going with this?
It’s addictive in that each success (no matter how seemingly small) leads to another and another and soon it’s a feeling you don’t want to live without. And when that happens you’ll discover you begin to succeed on a daily basis and enjoy what you’re doing.
So how does this apply to writers? Well, think about it. Perhaps you don’t want to get too technical, too detailed as you’re creative, right? Nonetheless if you set simple to achieve goals at first (say you’ll write 1,000 words a day or 500 or even 250 or maybe a bit of research on a town you’re creating for a story) and you achieve that goal and then another and another, many times over you’ll find you can concentrate on your work more fully and you’re more and more eager to accomplish the goal you set. If it’s a goal you can quickly achieve then each time you accomplish it that dopamine will release providing that ‘feel good’ rush.
The key is to make those goals short and fairly simple. Once you can easily accomplish.
Yes, your bigger goal is probably to write a novel or maybe finish writing a screen script. But the smaller goal of writing a fixed number of words per day, or doing needed research, or formatting a page, will get you there. And there’s nothing to stop you from exceeding your goal as long as you don’t confuse things by having your goal be to exceed your goal.
So today I’m telling you to set goals. Set small ones, ones you can easily reach. When you do, give yourself a pat on the back and stop – OR continue on knowing you’ve accomplished what you intended.