notjenschiz (notjenschiz) wrote,

Better Living Through Fiction

I was reading a good fantasy book the other day, and I noted that the hero had incredible willpower. Then I realized that, for a fictional character, having willpower is as easy as writing "He had incredible willpower." Of course, a good author will spice it up a bit, show-not-tell, but it all comes down to words.

So I thought, maybe I should do that. Maybe I should *write* my way into willpower. The next time I wanted a cookie, I wrote, "He looked at the cookie with practiced disdain and pushed it away, permitting himself a small smile at his triumph." And it worked. It made it much easier for me to overcome that urge.

Being a thoroughly (self) trained (pop) psychologist, I can imagine some reasons this may work.

1) Vividly and concretely imagining something seems to make it more real. Writing forces you to be more concrete in your visualization.

2) Writing in the past tense makes an event fait acompli. For me, this makes it easier to experience the reward for an act well-done.

3) Perspective. When I have a craving, in that moment it seems like the biggest thing in the world. When I take a moment to write about it, however, I can shrink it down to the miniscule thing that it is. Especially if my fictional proxy happens to be avoiding that cookie for the sake of SAVING THE WORLD.

So, I'm still road-testing this whole technique, but I encourage others to join me in the experiment. Feel free to extend the technique beyond dieting to motivating positive acts like exercise, homework, self-improvement, whatever.

I was going to release a book called "The Twitter Diet" where I explained how to use this technique to lose weight 140 characters at a time, but I realized it would be a pretty short book. So I'm just writing this LJ entry and givin' it away for free!

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