So you finally get a nice big chunk of writing time to really dream and create, and who shows up, but the psychic vampire.
Not Vampire Bill from True Blood, awesomely ESP-ing you that he’s coming to save your Sookie-ass from big nasty monsters. No, today, sadly, I am not talking about that kind of psychic vampire.
I am talking about long draining imaginary conversations. About worrying over people who really LOVE to get you worried about them. I’m talking about people you are constantly having conversations with in your head when you finally get time to sit down and space out at your desk and maybe even WRITE something. People who are not in the room. People who are most likely not paying your bills, yet you’re letting all this UNPAID WORK go straight their way . . .
HOW IT WORKS
What happens when you get yourself into the amazing state when you’re wide open to the creative waves you want to tap into is that you can very, very easily, through no fault of your own, tap into conversations with OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT IN YOUR BOOK. Real people! Not characters you’re hoping to hear from.
What happens is that rather than tapping into your book, into that wide open narrative awesomeness that is just waiting to come out, you’re more like . . . chit-chatting.
Persuading. Consoling, Mildly bitching out or making a point that is forbidden by you or the other person to actually SAY, in real life. . . You may find yourself lecturing, even. . .
Sometimes these people who psychically interlope are classic “energy vampires,” that is to say, big fat energy drains you’re keeping around out of habit rather than love or desire. (See Judith Orloff for more on this, she is amazing in explaining how the mechanics of the draining works).
Sometimes, though, the psychic vampire you’re engaging with is awesome, someone who you are happy to have in your life, but someone who should totally NOT be at your desk when you’re trying to pull in the muses.
I excised the big fat bloodsucking, personality-disordered extreme vampires from my life several years ago, but I still sometimes accidentally let my energy get leaky with people in my life.
I find it happening once in a while when I’m driving, these days: when certain friends are up against some problem that they aren’t quite confronting head on, I find myself having the actual (unspoken in real life) conversation in my head with them. It sneaks in. I get all lectury! I get irritated! I start making a PLAN for them, it is ridiculous.
The thing is: it is not my business. I am here if they want to talk about it, but until that moment comes, when it IS brought up directly in real life, it is SOOOO none of my business.
So sometimes, I’ll be having this imaginary telepathic chit-chat, then, thank god, I notice how gross it is to try to persuade, lecture, whatever. Ick! And I stop. The boundaries are clear and the conversation evaporates, poof.
It’s awesome–there is a feeling of off-ness when this stuff starts to happen. It’s become very clear to me that the feeling of merging energetically where I don’t belong is an absolute sign to move in ANOTHER DIRECTION.
But it didn’t used to be this way—it took a couple of years of meditation and of really paying attention to where my energy and attention are going before I could snap back into myself so quickly.
Another way it can play out when you’re sitting down to write is you’ll find yourself DEFENDING yourself. Defending having writing time, defending whatever choice you have made in your life to whatever parental figure never quite approved. . . .
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF DOING THIS TELEPATHIC LECTURE/DEFENDING YOURSELF THING:
1) Name things in the room, out loud: chair, desk, window, floor—whatever you see, say it out loud. Do ten things minimum. This puts you back in the now and gets you out of the vampire blood sticky hell pit.
2) Jump up and down, get your feet clearly PLANTED on the floor.
3) Embarrassing, but: just sort of yell “OUT!” a couple times. Then focus yourself, gently, on something pleasant and easy, preferably physically, like a cup of tea or something, that can lead you away from the irritating conversation in your head.
THE REALLY BAD NEWS
Sometimes YOU are the psychic vampire of yourself. With absolutely nobody else involved! God that is so tricky, isn’t it? I would love to see Alan Ball try to get THAT plotline into True Blood.
(The big mess of dead-vampire-goo that happens when you stake someone on that show, yeah, that is pretty darn accurate as a visual representation of the dogmeat we turn ourselves into through our worries and obsessions, no? I knew that stuff looked familiar. . . )
It’s true: Our little obsessions, the little things we just can’t seem to let go of, these suck suck suck our energy.
Sometimes it’s really deep, old family stuff, like feeling guilty for being the one who moved to the West Coast and escaped the dysfunction. Or feeling guilty for not having kids (or just as easily, for having had them.)
And then other times it’s just the stupid little freefloating anxiety of having eaten some giant bagel for breakfast or avoiding the hellish pile of paperwork sitting in a drawer.
The amazing thing here is that the fact that we can just as easily vampirize ourselves is PROOF that it’s not the external issue of a clingy friend or someone who won’t take care of themselves that is the problem: it is our OWN willingness to pour energy into this stuff where it really isn’t any of our business. Where it keeps us quite efficiently from taking risks and actually CREATING our own thing.
HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR OWN SELF AS A PSYCHIC VAMPIRE
When I find myself having useless conversations with myself about my own crap during writing time, I usually these days remember to use one of these two tools:
1) Contain it: if it’s the big stuff, like family stuff, I just let myself know I can deal with it later. It’s complex, it’s big, and therefore it is idiotically unrealistic to expect I can fix it in the two hours of time I’ve got here on a Tuesday morning to dream and create. If there’s something pressing, though, if it’s really bad I will journal or call someone or something, just to get it out and get clarity, but I really hate to use my writing time on it and I try to put it off until later if possible.
2) Deal with it: If it’s specifically the freakin taxes I haven’t sent in yet or whatever it is, if I can’t contain it in my head ie put it off for another week, I just set a time to deal later and then it’s done.
But the thing is, that free floating anxiety will just find something else once the taxes are done: dustbunnies under the desk, what that random person meant when he said xyz, wondering if someone I love was trying to tell me something important and I accidentally blew them off. Whatever it is.
I can always find a vein to tap in myself, to funnel my energy into total bs rather than into what is risky, creative and useful, rather than putting my energy into any actual risky, quiet, gentle, actual productivity.
Therefore: for me, usually containtment is the way to go.
Writing time is sacred. Also: the vampires can’t come in unless you invite them, remember?