My husband hates the movie What About Bob. He's a psychologist and thinks the idea of a patient stalking you to your vacation home, then subsequently winning the hearts of your family and driving you insane, sounds more like horror than comedy. I on the other hand, love that movie. I have a soft spot for the antics of Bill Murray. What can I say, I'm from the Ghostbusters generation, but that's not the only reason I love it. I actually think it contains some sound wisdom. Really, I do.
Sometimes I wonder if the producers of What About Bob knew they be doing the public a favor when they made the movie? And I'm not talking about raising the awareness of bladder explosion. (Which is real, by the way. My sister had a patient in the ICU whose bladder had exploded. That is the honest to goodness truth!) No, I'm talking about the sound psychological advice contained in the pages of Dr. Leo Marvin's book, Baby Steps. I wish I could actually buy that book and read it! Unfortunately it doesn't exist. Though I can imagine what it would say if it did:
When facing an overwhelming task (such as doing a gigantic pile of dishes), do not look at the whole chore. Simply break it down into manageable chunks. First say to yourself, I will do the cups and only the cups and so forth.
Okay, so a famous psychiatrist might not bother with telling you exactly how to do the dishes, but that's how I use the advice. Baby steps to load the dishwasher, baby steps to wipe down the counter, baby steps to fold the laundry. It makes me laugh and I get things done.
I think most of us as writers are pretty much baby step specialists. After all an entire book is written letter by letter, word by word, page by page. Sometimes when I start a new project (after the initial new book rush), I look at all the work that needs to be done before finishing and I get overwhelmed. Then Bob's voice comes into my head, "babysteps to the elevator" "baby steps to get on the bus" and suddenly I know I can do it! What about you, do you baby step your way through life or am I the only one who loves this?
I'm doing something I rarely do: devoting an entire day to writing. Seven hours of non-stop work on my book. Usually I have a million other mom things I need to be doing during the day, but today I'm putting it all on hold and just writing. Because guess what, the dishes will still be there tomorrow (so will the laundry and the vacuuming and the expired containers that need to be cleaned out of the fridge). And if I don't fix my hair it won't fall out. Sweats are a perfectly acceptable form of clothing. I'm having Captain Crunch for breakfast just because I'm an adult and I can (and it proves I'm a rebel this morning). Chalk this all up to my Sticking it to the Woman attitude. Also did I mention it's negative 20 right now? There's no way I'm running any errands. WiP, here I come.
On my way home from yoga this morning I planned to stop and get a diet Pepsi from the corner gas station. I know what you're thinking: Is 44 ounces of artificially sweetened, dyed and caffeinated carbonation really the best way to end a morning of strength training, and meditation? Personally, I think it is. Though I do try to scale it back to 32 ounces some days. Yoga is all about balance. And I walk away from it as relaxed as a jelly fish, so to balance that out and get back a healthy amount of anxiety and tension, I drink Pepsi (It makes perfect sense in my mind). But I digress ... The point I'm trying to make is that this morning I was thinking about my book, and I drove right past the gas station. Right past it! I didn't even realize until I got home what I'd done. There was not shaking, no automatic turning into the parking lot, no cold sweats or salivating when I saw the Chevron sign. There was nothing. My point? Apparently writing is stronger than anything, even classical conditioning. Take that Pavlov.
***Update*** I just added that image and about sprinted to my car.