Step One Set a Goal

Before you write, set a goal (sound familiar?). Decide on what you want from your writing. Do you want to write a story? A letter? An article? A book chapter? A script? It doesn't matter. Just select your goal.

Gallwey suggests you enrich your inner game experience by making a three-part goal. This is his way of helping you make your goal concrete. He suggests you ask yourself these questions:

"What do I want for performance?" Example: To create a powerful sales letter. "What do I want for experience?" Example: To enjoy the process of writing.

"What do I want to learn?"

Example: To write without Self One interrupting.

Answering those questions will give you a complete target to hand over to Self Two, the Master Writer within you. By describing your goal completely, you will be putting your order in and making Self Two aware of what you want.

You're making a request. You're asking Self Two to help you create a specific piece of writing. In order to get what you want, you must know what you want. So be sure your goal is exact, specific, and tangible. If you don't have a clear goal, you won't get a clear or useful result.

Self Two takes orders. Your job in this step is to give it a clear request.

Step Two: Be Aware of the Moment

All you have is this moment. The past is gone and the future isn't here yet. Thoughts of the past happen in this moment. Visions of the future happen in this moment. Your point of power is now.

This is the secret to keeping Self One, the chatterbox "monkey mind," quiet. When you are focused on this moment, you squelch Mr. Editor. Eastern philosophers have known this for centuries. Be aware of something in this moment, something that occupies your mind, and you concentrate all your attention on the moment at hand.

Gallwey suggests tennis players pay close attention to the ball, to see its color, seams, movement. What I do in writing is focus on the pen moving across the page, or on my fingers hitting the keyboard (I have to see the keys to know what to hit). Though I can still hear Self One muttering, I ignore him. In a very real way I am in a hypnotic trance as I write, what horror-king Stephen King calls "the writer's trance."

When you're focused on the activity happening right now, you are open to Self Two's guiding hand and not vulnerable to Self One's editorial voice. If you use a word processor or computer, turn your screen off. Just concentrate on the writing. Without the screen your mind won't be able to edit your work. (Some new software comes with a built-in program to prevent you from seeing the screen as you write. See www.HypnoticWritingWizard.com)

Step Three: Trust What Happens

Everything in life is—or can be—a learning experience. Even if you don't write the draft you think you want to write, you will write something. And you will learn something in the process. Accept that.

Trusting Self Two, the Master Writer, means being willing to experiment. By letting the Master Writer within you come through and direct, or influence, your writing you will be giving yourself the opportunity to learn, to grow, to expand, and to enrich your writing.

Trust the inner game approach to writing. Allow words to flow through you. Don't edit them. You've set your goal. You've focused on something in the moment to keep the editor inside quiet. And you wrote something as a result—probably something surprising and maybe even spectacular. Self Two came through!

Self Two probably already helps you in your writing. Whenever you think you want to write a larger work, say a novel, you usually have a sense of the whole project. You don't have the complete idea in your mind, only a sense that it will be a novel. Well, how do you know it's a novel and not a short story? Somehow your feeling— where is it coming from?—lets you know your idea is going to be a book. You haven't begun the book and haven't even thought much about it. But it feels like a novel and not a story.

Whom are you trusting? What part of you is telling you, "This is a book!"? Isn't it the Master Writer within you?

If you have difficulty playing the inner game of Hypnotic Writing, it is because your inner editor, nasty old Self One, has a tight grip on your mind. That's okay. You're not doomed. There's hope!

You can try doodling for awhile before writing. Or put on some meditative background music, something gentle and soothing like Baroque music (not the Rolling Stones!). Or try freewriting for a while to loosen up. Runners stretch before a race. You can warm up with a few minutes of undirected, spontaneous writing. Another idea is to distract yourself completely before writing. That is, go mow the lawn or work out and then come back to your work. I often take a break by playing my harmonica or working on a new song (I prefer it to working out).

Some writers enjoy struggling with their writing. Why? Because they come from the "no pain, no gain" mentality. Some tennis players, for example, after experiencing the ease of letting their Self Two help them play tennis, still go out on the court and fight to improve themselves. It's an ego trip, my friend. As Gallwey wrote in The Inner Game of Tennis, "You feel that you are in control, that you are the master of the situation." Hah!

When you continue to struggle to write (or play tennis), you feel a sense of satisfaction. Maybe even dissatisfaction. But—and this is the main point—you are still there. Still involved, still controlling, still trying to direct the show. If that describes you, then you have identified with Self One, the critic.

Though it's not an immediate ego gratifier, it's wiser to give in to Self Two, the Master. If that bothers you, then consider this: After you have written something based on these principles, you can take the credit for it!

You don't have to tell anyone that Self Two helped you write that best selling book or award winning script. No one has to know. No One! So feel free to play the inner game to writing. Set a clear goal, focus on something in the moment, and trust what happens. Later on, edit your work, perfect it, and take credit for it!

After all, my friend, you did the writing, didn't you?

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