Simple Technique

Words of wisdom from The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your life by Thomas M. Sterner:

“’Do, Observe, Correct.’” This technique can be applied to any activity in which you try to engage the practicing mind, but because DOC is easiest to grasp when applied to a physical activity such as a sport, we will start with that.

“I once read an interview with a coach for the U.S. Olympic archery team. He commented that the biggest problem he faced in coaching the America team was that they focused on their scores, or the result of their shots. It was as if they were drawing the bow and releasing the arrow only to hit the bull’s-eye and earn a good score. This was in contrast to the Asian teams, who, having grown up in different cultures, were consumed in the process of properly executing the technique that lead up to releasing the shot. Where the arrow hit the target was almost unimportant compared to the motion of drawing the bow correctly and releasing the shot. They reviewed the result with an almost detached indifference. For them, the desired goal was a natural result of prioritizing the proper technique of drawing the bow. They operated in a completely different paradigm, and because of it, they were very difficult to beat.

“What I want you to understand from this story is that the Asian archers were functioning in the DOC process. They drew the bow, they released the arrow, they observed the result, and they made corrections for the next shot. They do, they observe, they correct.”

What a simple, yet powerful idea! Instead of focusing on results – on where you’ll end up — simply focus on the steps needed to take you there. Think how this might transform a writing session: Rather than fixating on a goal, say writing 1,000 words or finishing a chapter, just quietly and patiently focus on craft – on tightening up your sentences, moving phrases around, finding a better, more accurate word to describe an emotion. Just let yourself be carried on the wave of the writing itself, not the shore you are aiming for.

What a relaxing, non-stressful way to get where we want to go as we all write on!

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Simple Technique

  1. Toby Stein says:

    What a lovely way to start the day, by discovering that you were doing something “right” without awareness that there was professional back-up for how you did it. Some months ago, I discovered that my manuscript was nearly 200 pages too long to be welcome by agents or editors. In today’s book world, manuscripts as long as mine were almost asking to be rejected-unless you happened to be someone with a big name. That much I knew. I had to do more than “trim” my manuscript; I had to cut a huge part of it out. Instead of fretting about that, I started with page one, and cut every extra word or phrase. Soon I noticed that my deletions did not cripple my work, they made it even more accessible. (I am a committed fan of accessibility.) I kept going, paragraph by paragraph, cutting some, tightening a larger number, moving others around for clarity’s sake. In the end, I cut 190 pages–of which only four were deleted in their entirety. I felt mighty good. Still do. Thanks, Karin, for posting this fascinating affirmation of what I did “just because” it felt right.

  2. Hi Toby,

    Thanks so much for your wonderful note and for sharing your editing approach —
    it’s so helpful! I love remembering that writing dangerously isn’t just about what
    preserve in a story, but also about what you are bold enough to let go of. Bravo!

    Write on,
    Karin

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