Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Resetting Yourself

I just got back an hour or so ago from my weekly guest appearance on a local morning show. We were shooting outside today, and just my luck, it started pouring about 15 seconds before we went live. Fortunately, the spot was shot under a covered walkway at the base of a building—and we were talking about growing things in wet spots—so it was kind of fitting. Anyway, the unexpected makes for good TV.

Those two-and-a-half minutes on air are easily the fastest two and a half minutes of my week. Afterward, I'm usually on a little high that lasts for about an hour or so ... that's how I know I like these things. It takes me a day to get psyched up to do it, then it's two intense minutes of live TV, and then another hour to come down off the rush.

Not all of my segments go perfectly. I did one a little while back that still gives me shivers. I was going along fine, but then for some reason, my mind just went utterly blank. When I watched the playback, I could see the exact moment the contents of my brain emptied out onto the floor. I kept talking for a while after that, sort of babbling, but I knew I was in deep shit. Then I just ran out of stuff to say and I kind petered to a halt, mumbling something about how sorry I was. Ouch.

The host—thank God—had lots of experience with guests who choke, so she recognized it, reset the conversation, and gave me a few seconds to find my center. Then we finished the segment and they "cut to the couch" (the on-set hosts) and finally to commercial. The whole thing took about 30 seconds, but man, those were looong seconds. I felt every one of them.

I haven't choked since. It's like I had to get that out of my system. Now, when I feel myself start to drift or freeze up, I know it and I can reset myself before it gets out of hand. Now, you wouldn't even know that I just experienced a split second of sheer panic and had to quickly refocus before I went gibbering off the deep end.

I think writing is the same way, but much slower. It happens in geological time. Your highs stretch out over weeks, maybe months. But you choke too, when the words just vanish, and those are pretty awful days and sometimes weeks. So you tell me ... how do you reset when you can feel it all spinning out of control?


Mark Terry said...

I think you're onto something. I don't know how I reset the writing. Sometimes by working on something else for a while. But you're right, those dry moments in writing can really spin out.

E. Flanigan said...

Um, I haven't figured out how to reboot yet. I tend to freeze up, perseverate on the fact that I'm stuck, spiral downward, then take a nap. Upon awakening, I lapse into a mild depression.

Haha ... unfortunately, I'm not kidding.

So far, my only solution is to work my darndest not to spin out in the first place. Not really a solution, but it is the truth.

Jon VanZile said...


Yeah ... walking away from the computer or switching projects does wonders for me.

Jon VanZile said...

Ha! That's funny ... a nap and avoidance. It's probably better than a drink or ten.

Natasha Fondren said...

I miss performing! It's a fun energy to learn and work with. Everything is so instantly obvious.

In writing, I don't know. Just keep banging on the damn thing, and eventually it resets. After weeks and months...

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