This incredible method of mind training is called ‘The Playpen Technique’ and is widely used (by me) as a way to shut up and write.
You know how it is – you have a fantastic, genius of an idea and boot up the computer, or grab a sheaf of paper and a pen, intent on capturing the glorious wonders unfolding in your brilliant brain. Then it starts..
The relentless bullshit production factory swings into action. The demons are let loose. They jibber and squawk.I’m not sure about this.Can I really do this?I’m not good enough.Probably mess it up.No-one will buy it anyway, so what’s the point?I’m an idiot.I can’t even write.Who the hell do you think you are trying to write anything, let alone, this – this requires wit, erudition, warmth, depth..and you are, frankly, a ****!.
Stop! There’s no need to suffer. There is hope. All you need is a playpen in the corner of your writing room.
The Playpen Technique
Conquer your wayward mind in three easy steps.
First: Identify Your Demons
There are so many thoughts trundling through your head it can be hard to recognise a genuinely nasty thought as it wriggles past. The really vicious ones often try to pass themselves off as ‘constructive criticism’ or ‘the voice of reason’. Don’t trust them. They are evil.
Once you’ve spotted them you can name them if you like. I don’t bother – don’t like to encourage them. It gives them ideas. And you know you’re in trouble when your thoughts start having thoughts of their own. Anyway..
Second: Confront Your Demons
Once you have the little bastard in your sights don’t be afraid to look him in the eye. Stare him down. It’s your mind – you’re in charge. Don’t be intimidated by his condescending leer. Or the way he flaps his ears at you. Or the hand gestures. Stand your ground.
Now tell your demon what you think of him. State firmly and simply:
“You’re talking shite, you’re wrong and I’m not listening”
Do not get into an argument with your demon. They know all the tricks. If they fight back, just repeat your mantra. If it helps, shout. Don’t worry about the neighbours; chances are they think you’re nuts already.
Third: Banish Your Demons
With your demon suitably subdued you are ready to send him away. Point and command: “Get in the playpen.” After a while your demons will get used to the routine and you can shorten your command to “Playpen”. A true master of this technique should be capable of banishing demons with a simple jerk of the head. Your eyes need never leave the screen, or page.
Now you are free to write whatever you like, no heckling or jeering from the sidelines. Your demons will play happily together in the playpen and ignore you completely.
However, it is worth noting the rare occasions when things go wrong. There is a downside to putting all your demons in one place. Sometimes they start to talk and compare notes. They gang up and plot. Sometimes they throw their toys at you. Sometimes they throw their faeces.
Do not be perturbed. Learn to duck as a half-chewed plastic dinosaur flies towards your head. And as for the poo – you can get yourself hosed down later.