Thursday, February 05, 2015

Renewing the Writing Vows by Pamela Mytroen

Do you remember when you fell in love with writing? After your first kiss you lived in a state of euphoria with a racing heart. Your hands flew over the keyboard as you tackled, and conquered, every Everest in your path. And then reality hit. The shine of the honeymoon faded. Amor began to sound more like grammar, and weak-in-the-knees turned to foot-in-mouth disease as we faced the everyday routine of deadlines, revisions, and word count.

Have you noticed how some writers manage to maintain that long-term love of pen, paper, and predicates? How do they do it? Looking inside the biology of a love-brain may give us a clue.

In 2011, Drs. Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron of the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, New York, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on seventeen individuals who had been happily married for an average of 21 years. Their findings concluded that the brain activity surrounding long-term romantic love is very similar to the exhilarated brain of a newly-married couple.

What secret did they uncover? How does love linger over decades and last through never-ending laundry and loan payments? Acevedo and Aron hang lasting love all on one hook – Dopamine. It’s the same chemical in the brain that generates “I feel good” every time a drug addict takes a hit. No wonder they say love is addicting. 

“Our brains view long-term passionate love as a goal-directed behavior to attain rewards,” says Psychologist Adoree Durayappah-Harrison. In other words, married couples intentionally provide their spouse with long-term love in order to procure the rewards, which include the reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and union with another.

Not all will agree that love is motivated by a mere “feel good” release of Dopamine. Surely something could be said for day-in and day-out commitment. Long-term writers, who have celebrated their silver and golden anniversaries would agree. However, we writers often need encouragement to persevere, and a prize around the next corner may be just the ticket.

What are some of the rewards of a long and committed writing life as opposed to a short-lived infatuation?

  • ·      A body of published work
  • ·      A distinctive voice
  • ·      Development of self-discipline
  • ·      Discovery of God and discovery of self
  • ·      Growth in writing skills
  • ·      Opportunity to excel across several genres
  • ·      Mentorship of other writers
  • ·      Legacy of perseverance
  • ·      Deeper relationships
  • ·      Lasting purpose 
  • ·      Ability to cope with stress due to consistent routine 

Possibly the most important reward, and not necessarily found in a lab, is that of knowing we have obeyed the call and the Caller. Crafting words worthy of The Word is a gift we are humbled to receive. Emptying our pen and soul onto paper to fill up another lonely, empty soul is more than enough in return.  

Now that the veil has been lifted from the mystery of long-term love, kiss that lovely white screen before you, hold hands with your pen and cross the threshold once again! Let the dopamine do its thing while you enjoy the benefits of a long and faithful writer’s life.

Writers who focus on the rewards may be
                                         “more inclined to stick with the grind”.

Pamela Mytroen 

Durayappah-Harrison, Adoree. “Brain Study Reveals Secrets of Staying Madly in Love.” Psychology Today. 03, February, 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

Pam writes, nurtures children and grand-babies, bakes brownies, and teaches EAL, surrounded by the wind and winsome beauty of the Saskatchewan prairies.


Kathleen Gibson said...

Hello, Pam! Nice to read you! I'm tickled by your article -- what a wonderful reminder of why we battle-scarred writers continue wrestling words. I think I'm going to share this with a non-writer relative who has never quite understood why I continue with my "little hobby." Ahem. Blessings.

fudge4ever said...

Ha ha, we all need a "reason" to show our neighbors and family why we write! Hope it works!

Peter Black said...

Pam, your post injected a little shot of Dopamine into my brain's feel good centre! ;)
Thanks for bringing some interesting understanding into the matter of the long-term, committed writer's life and relationships.~~+~~

fudge4ever said...

Ha ha, glad you are feeling good, Peter! Hope it inspires you to write some more.

Glynis said...

Brilliant! Love it, Pam. Welcome aboard and thank you for a wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking piece. I love the marriage/writing comparison. And am mighty thankful for the 'feel good' moments on both counts.

fudge4ever said...

Thank you Glynis! You're like a hit of dopamine!

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