Writing | Self Improvement
The Circle Game
I recently read an article by Bill Abbate and it tweaked my interest.
He wrote about cycles that play out in our lives and how we can learn from them. If we examine patterns in our lives, we may notice that we are locked in a cycle.
A cycle is “a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order.”
It reminded me of one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs, The Circle Game.
She reflected on how seasons circle around like we are on a carousel. If you’ve never heard it, it’s worth a listen.
The three cycles are:
The vicious cycle, the closed loop cycle and the virtuous cycle. Relationships are one area you can use to contemplate how cycles are playing out in your life.
I decided to apply the concept of cycles to my relationship with writing.
After some reflection I can see that all of the cycles are at work here. Things I do in my writing practice fall in each cycle.
The Vicious Cycle
The first thing that came to mind was my habit of checking my statistics. When I first joined Medium, I found myself obsessively checking reads and claps, in an attempt to ‘game’ the system. Eventually I realized the best way to promote myself was to focus on writing. I focused on quality content, consistent posting and relevance. This pushed me into the creativity cycle, which is a positive movement.
There are other patterns I haven’t acknowledged to myself.
I get caught up in details, editing and improving articles that are already published. In some ways this is a good thing to do but when it becomes obsessive, I find that I’m not writing anything new.
It’s a vicious cycle when I don’t let inspiration in because my articles aren’t inspired. They tend to fall flat.
Now that I can see this need for perfection, I’m going to focus on new work before I spend time editing old stories.
When you recognize a vicious cycle, the best thing to do is stop doing it.
The Closed-Ended Loop
This is a pattern of behaviour that I like to call: life on repeat.
When I review my posts I see I sometimes get stuck in writing about the past. I repeat stories I’ve created about what has happened in my life instead of focusing on the present. Creating from past events reinforces my old stories about my life which prevents me from letting go.
You can change a closed loop behaviour into a vicious cycle or a virtuous cycle, depending on the choices you make.
I’m going to commit to creating articles from the present, rather than my past.
The Virtuous Cycle — the Cycle of Creation
This is where the sweet spot is in my writing. When I wake up filled with new ideas for articles I want to write, I can feel the creativity bubbling up inside of me.
I’m excited to get to the page and put the ideas into play. This kind of work builds on itself and spirals upwards.
If you recognize a creative cycle, figure out ways to do more of it.
If I create a regular pattern of capturing my inspirations I will move into the creating cycle more and more.
Here’s my takeaway from these reflections.
1. Stop striving for perfection.
2. Write more about the present than the past.
3. Capture my inspirations right away.
Thank you, Bill, for inspiring me to use cycles to reflect on my writing practice. I appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow from my observations.
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