The most useful piece of advice my shrink gave me.

When I was younger, I used to freeze up whenever I talked to a girl I liked. My shrink would tell me that it was because I always got ahead of myself. After one conversation, I already had a ring on her finger.

He told me to take each moment as it came. A pipe was just a pipe, he’d say. A conversation was just a conversation. And sometimes, even sex was just sex.

We’d discuss the same thing with my writing. Although I’d shown an aptitude and love of writing when I was very young, I used to freeze up whenever I sat down to write. He’d say that it was a similar thing to talking to girls. I was getting ahead of myself.

Whenever I’d sit down to write I could already hear the reviewers praising my work as I typed the words.

My shrink would say that speaking and writing are unconscious activities. In the same way, that if we focus too much on the mechanics of walking we start to stumble, if we obsess on the words we say or write, we can lose our ability to speak or write them as easily.

I couldn’t just stop getting over excited and anxious about writing, so I used to have to play a trick on myself. I’d have one piece, which was my magnum opus, where I’d sweat over every word. Then I’d have one that I just did for fun.

Obviously, the one I did for fun would get published and my magnum opus would get ignored. Now when I read over the latter piece, it reads as if I was trying way too hard.

I can feel it starting to happen again. Although my book doesn’t come out for six months, I’m already starting to get anxious about it. I find that I get more anxious when I sit around day dreaming about all the wonderful things that may occur. I figure I’m setting my future too high and giving myself something to lose —a fantasy.

This makes writing a little harder. I’ve gotten a good start on my second book and I’m happy with how it’s going. But there are nagging doubts about the voice, or the plot or whatever. As happened with the last book, I know I need to give it time, workshop as much as I can and just try to enjoy the writing process.

I’m  trying to stop day dreaming. Yet, I keep asking myself if I really want to drain all the anticipation from life events. Is being nervous and excited about something really such a bad thing?

I guess it is if it freezes me up, makes me anxious and stops me from enjoying what’s happening now. But maybe I should keep reminding myself that it’s just a fantasy and enjoy my daydreams for what they are.

57 thoughts on “The most useful piece of advice my shrink gave me.

  1. What no! Don’t stop day-dreaming (unless you’re crossing roads and stuff.. thing can get a leetle dangerous then) it’s the best thing to do on this silly planet! :)

  2. Yarrgh, if I stopped daydreaming what would happen to me?! I might find out the world isn’t as groovy and mellow and kind and forthright and generous as I day dreamed it was.
    And congratulations on the book! You dream on! (But if you’d put vampires and elves in it it might have sold to the studios!-just sayin’. There might be a jewish elf and vampire niche market) ha!

  3. Daydreaming is where we hide our goodies box. When things are boring, or drab, or sour, we open that goodie box and pull out something tasty to mentally chew. We need it. Thanks for the follow.

  4. While I cannot truly say that I have as intense a problem as yours, I do know what you feel like because I need to plan out everything before I do, and that includes writing an article.
    Something I’ve done to combat that, in case you are interested, is that I started noting plot points in memos as and when they come to me. I also wrote down everything I dreamed a couple of times when I woke up. Dreams make for fantastic story-telling, but they are never complete. Once you wake up, you tend to forget your dreams, so you have to write them down immediately. What that creates is an incomplete piece that you could look at and go, “Damn. That’s too good to pass up.”
    Cheers, and thanks for following my blog! :D

  5. “I guess it is if it freezes me up, makes me anxious and stops me from enjoying what’s happening now.” Oh yes. Love that line. So true. I do the same thing Eli – and ALWAYS daydreaming. You can’t imagine how many grocery cashiers I’ve told “Sorry, it just wouldn’t work out” (in my head) because they asked something very sexy like “Did you find everything alright?” Worries and hopes – I’ve taken them to the nth degree … I need to practice this ‘staying in the moment’ thing. ;) Great blog.

  6. Savoring the present moment is key but never stop dreaming because that is what keeps you going. I think it’s good to have daydreams but don’t become so lost in them that you lose touch with reality. In reality, from what I have read on here, you are an amazing writer.

  7. Sometimes I think I would benefit from seeking out a shrink, and not just because I have difficulty talking to girls. It’s encouraging to hear that you have recognised your own need for help and have been brave enough to seek it out, and and encouraging that are so open about it and your life in your blog. Honesty is a virtue I hold in high regard, and sometimes I fear I prize it so much I make it an idol, which makes me a bit neurtoic about things like common courtesy when people say “hello” and ask “how are you doing?”, where one is expected to say “fine”, whether or not it’s a lie. I understand it’s a formality, but I would prefer people just say “hello, I hope you are doing well”, because often times people are not fine, and have no one to talk to, and it hurts when people make empty gestures as formalities, having no idea what someone may be hiding in their mind behind what may be a forced smile… as I said, I probably need a shrink…

    Anyways, much respect to you Eli, for your honesty, and what I have gleaned briefly from reading your blog, is your striving for living your faith in an orthodox way! I am personally a Christian, though I believe we would get along great, as I don’t believe that differing faiths necessitates unfriendliness or abrasiveness like many hyper-fundamentalist Christians approach interacting with people who disagree with them on some things. I would not seek your acquaintanceship as a means for trying to change what you believe – too many Christians do that, treating people like projects, failing at showing a true Christ-like love that is genuine and speaks for itself by one’s character and does not need to try to forcefully compel religious conversations or try to beat people with the bible to convert them. I have no agenda, only respect and admiration for what I see are some virtues you seek to live by, as I likewise do.

    Thanks for subscribing to my blog, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance and to read your very honest blog :)

  8. I enjoyed your take on how the craft of writing effects you, I guess if it was easy everybody would be doing it. i have days of joy when writing my novel and days when I think “Who the hell is this uneducated fool, thinking she can do this. I keep going a little each day. I daydream way to much wanting to start a new idea…this year NO this year i will stay focused. Good luck with your book sounds exciting to me.

  9. Daydreaming is a wonderful thing…without it, we couldn’t be writer’s at all, could we? Really, what more are we doing than writing our daydreams down on paper (or computer screen, as the case may be…). Never, never stop daydreaming. Enjoy it. Just be aware that that’ what you’re doing, and don’t get all worked up about it. Until you get “the call,” of course – and then nothing on God’s green Earth can prevent a bit of getting worked up. And that’s good too. Happy daydreams!

  10. As an aspiring writer who can’t seem to make his inner voices shut up and write already, this post helped me immensely — by the simple expedient of showing me a mirror in the face of Eli Glasman. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. The same thing happens to me I get really anxious when I start to write, sometimes through the process of writing I find my rhytym and the process becomes fun, other times I am completely crippled by it. I do think the anticipation and anxiety we feel is part of what gives us a sense of being “alive” “awake” while I might give awesome speeches when on automatic pilot, I find that automatic pilot is a terrible state to be in during intimate moments. Unfortunately I have no sense of balance whatsoever :-P

  13. Hi Eli, I like this post. It’s true that when we agonise too much over how we want to come across we may well lose our “voice”. It was drummed into me at University, in particular when doing units within the School of English that your voice must be authentic otherwise the reader will see inconsistencies in your work. God luck with the book. Be brave and keep doing what you love :)

  14. Your first paragraph pretty much reminded me of my dating troubles for most of my youth! And by my youth, I mean my teens, twenties, and thirties.

  15. Dreaming and daydreaming are part of writing – well, when we write we enter the ‘writer’s trance.’ I strongly recommend welcoming your dreams by paying attention to them, keeping a dream journal, doing some free writing in the space between sleeping and getting out of bed. Connect to the process, Eli, not to the result. We who find that flow are very lucky, because being a writer – published or unpublished – is a rich way of being in the world.

  16. Anyone who tells you that you should never stop daydreaming hasn’t experienced the exact situation you describe. I have. You described it so precisely that I thought maybe I had written this post, until I saw the picture, and also realized the idea was ludicrous and there was no chance of that at all. Anyway, this is eloquently expressed.

    I think it’s all about recognizing the dreams for what they are. Sometimes I freeze up because I can hear the reviewers, and the freeze is caused by the sudden pressure that puts on me. Like they’ve already written the praise, and now they are standing over me with their arms crossed waiting for me to turn out the fantastic prose required to justify their investment. They hold the mortgage to my writing, and they can foreclose if I miss a payment.

    That kind of daydreaming is more trouble than it’s worth. Fantastic post!

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  18. Marcel Duchamps once said, “I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists.” I think writing gets easier when we’re more excited about the process than the outcome. In any case, thanks for your words!

  19. Such an interesting post! You’re a writer, so of course you daydream or get ahead of yourself and make up narratives for everything. The best advice my shrink ever gave me was to start meditating. Once I did that for a while, my mind shifted. I let the daydreams or the projections or whatever just come and go and I become more aware of when I’m getting swept up in stuff. Congratulations on your book, Eli & thanks for following my blog!

  20. Amen on all fronts! I totally related to your story. Like you, I developed a love of writing and did a lot of creative writing when I was young, as well as feature articles. That was all in my late teens & early 20′s. Then life took over and I got bogged down with the responsibility of making a living…
    And now, 30 years later, I find that I freeze when I sit down to write. It’s been that way for awhile now. So to get my feet wet again, I started my blog. Hoping for less freeze and more breeze! And maybe, just maybe, a bit of daydreaming will help…

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