The power of the split screen
Years ago, when I was making my living mainly from freelance writing, I tried an experiment to help me cope with my brutal internal editor. (The one who was immobilizing me, oh, every third word or so.)
I opened a separate window on my computer screen, just for writing down what I was saying to myself every time I got stuck.
For the next few hours, I toggled back and forth between manuscript and self-talk. Turns out (no big surprise) that when I got stuck, it was usually not just because I was struggling to find the right words.
I was also saying to myself things like, “This is impossible.” “I don’t have enough information.” “It’s hopeless.” “I can’t finish.” “It will never work.”
Trapped in my mind, those thoughts typically drove me into the kitchen for a sugar fix, or pretty much anywhere other than the computer where I was mired in the apparent, and repeated, hopelessness of the situation.
When I wrote those thoughts down, on the other hand, and looked at them on the computer screen, they became less intractable. They were problems to solve. “I don’t have enough information” became “How much more information do I need? Where can I get it? How could this work with the information I have?”
I saved myself hours of mental cycling. I got the article done with a lot less trauma than usual.
And it was months before I tried the split-screen technique again.
Living with awareness is hard. It’s a good hard—it moves us forward, or deeper, or both—but reverting to habit is so much easier. Zoning out is so much easier.
In this blog, I’ll be exploring what happens when we pay attention. What gets in the way. What balance means. How we can be more forgiving of ourselves, and at the same time more intentional. How to bring a spirit of friendly curiosity and self-study to our habits around time. What other people are saying about ways of relating to time. And a lot of other things I haven’t thought of yet.
Thanks for joining me.