Happy Monday! Or Tuesday, as the case may be. Time for links to things online that I enjoyed this week.
I was intrigued by this article, which I found while looking for something else. I was looking for info on weird feelings in the stomach after food poisoning, another bout of which I just endured. This article is not about that at all but is much more interesting! I’m always writing about my characters’ gut clenching (male) or butterflies (female). It’s hard to come up with other ways to describe characters’ physical reactions to situations, so I’m always looking for other ways to do so and then going back and revising my manuscripts so they don’t say these things the same way all the time.
I recommend this article for writers, especially the list of physical reactions at the end, but this article is of general interest as well.
The author (Courtney Helgoe) talks about the enteric nervous system, also referred to as “the second brain,” which is an interesting and new-to-me phenomenon.
In addition to warning you about danger and helping you recognize when someone needs sympathy, your instincts can help your achieve peak performance once you have mastered a skill. Here is the quote for you:
“Once you’ve developed expertise in a particular area — once you’ve made the requisite mistakes — it’s important to trust your emotions when making decisions in that domain,” [Jonah] Lehrer insists. If you know you can do it, trust your gut — not your head.
Next time you’re tempted to think too much about something you know how to do, try a little therapeutic distraction. Say the alphabet backward when your yoga teacher orders you into the dreaded handstand, or sing a favorite song to yourself at the free-throw line. Briefly engaging your conscious mind with something other than the task at hand can leave your instincts free to do their job — and free you to enjoy the satisfaction all that practice has made possible.
I’ve been trying this a bit with my writing, by closing my eyes and just writing what I’m seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting in the scene.
I also like what the article said about your first impressions of meeting a new person. I have tried to override negative first impressions, and I’m not talking about danger here, just incompatibility for a friendship, and it never really works out. It’s best just to go with gut feel, I think.
The article also talks about inner conflict versus knowing when something is right.
When your intuition signals that you’ve found something or someone truly right for you, the choice often becomes strangely easy. “It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing it, there’s not a lot of conflict,” [Judith Orloff PhD] says.
Lehrer agrees that when you’re poised to make a big decision with lasting repercussions, like choosing your life partner, you’re best off deciding from the gut. Based on the bulk of his research into the cognitive mechanisms of decision-making, he actually recommends that you “think less about those choices that you care a lot about.”
My other favorite article of the week comes with beautiful pictures. This is a very richly contented blog post about black and white photography with contributions from several experts. This article is on Leanne Cole’s site. I’ve met Leanne, and gone on photo shoots with her. It was interesting to me to see how natural she is at taking great photos. She definitely has that muscle memory, or in the case of art, the eye, for composing beautiful photographs.