Performance = Potential – Interference
This simple, yet powerful formula was passed on to me by my great friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert.* Based on the core principles of sports psychology, it applies to virtually any endeavor, including writing. The less interference you encounter, the greater your
realized potential and the better your performance.
As soon as I saw this little equation in print, it prompted me to think about all the kinds of interference that can get in the way of our writing. I’m sure we can each come up with a list of our own set of stumbling blocks, but here are the ones that jumped out at me from
my own experience:
Distractions: The entire world seems designed to distract us — to woo us away from the page. We need time for quiet contemplation for experimenting and practicing to refill our well of creativity. What are your biggest current distractions? A day job or the demands of a growing family? Health issues? The Internet or listening to NPR?
Fears: While writing can be a joyful activity, it can also tap into our fears in a big way. We can feel fearful that we don’t have the skill to capture what we envision on the page. Or fear that we started too late and are running out of road. Or that other people are more
accomplished and are leaving us behind.
Lack of focus: This is a huge one for me. When I’m tired, when I’m feeling low, when I feel scattered, then my ability to concentrate on the job at hand really takes a nose dive. Writing so much mental energy! When my energy ebbs, it’s easy to become distracted or to give up when we hit a rough patch on the page. How about you?
Attitude: In uplifted, energized moments, we feel equal to the task at hand and interference melts away without a murmur. We feel motivated, charged up, excited — and all this shows up on the page. On the other hand, when for whatever reason, we feel discouraged or immobilized, interference ratchets up.
The first step to reducing interference is to pinpoint its sources in your own writing life. Think about a day when you were operating full steam ahead, when you were really in the flow state: What circumstances contributed to this sense of ease and productivity? Now
think of a day filled with frustration: What got in your way?
What forms of interference loom largest in your writing life? And what approaches do you have for eliminating them? I’d love to hear any strategies that work for you and might work for us all as we write on.
* Check out Rob’s wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690).