I am a writer, which means that as I sit before a blank page, I check my e-mail, hop on Facebook, and read about writing all as an elaborate warmup to the actual writing. Or, to be brutally honest, I goof off before word one hits the page.
As I was goofing off today, I was reading an excellent article about the psychology of writing, and I began to see a subtle but sure relationship between writing – something I enjoy but don’t always protect the time for – with, well, romance.
The article said that writers perform best when they achieve a state of “flow” that overcomes anxiety and boredom. I have written without looking at the clock in a fever of creativity, surprised when my plot hits a crescendo and I stop, amazed at how much time has flown by. Similarly, nothing stops romance colder than anxiety or clock-watching. There’s a great scene in one of the Sex & The City movies in which Miranda, the brainy one, lies beneath her good-guy husband, Steve, and asks him to hurry up. You can imagine his…um…crest-fallen reaction.
The article continues that ritual can be important for writing. Sit in your “writing place” so that becomes where you get used to being creative. The article talks about “cognitive cueing,” in which ritual can ensure that the same sights, sounds, smells cue your mind that now is the time to create. The analogy between this and romance is undeniable. How many times have we set the scene with candles and music to indicate that tonight we’re not watching Jon Stewart?
Finally, the article says bluntly, “There is no ideal rotation of the chair or perfect position of the desk clock that guarantees a Pulitzer. What counts, ultimately, is putting your backside in the chair.”
And that, too, is great advice for those of us in love. Just be present. Just put in the time. Because, there are no flowers or candles that are more romantic than someone who really listens, who is there for you without distraction.