Michaeline: My Favorite Tip of the Year

A Venus Pencil advertisement

Grab your pencil! Let’s write for the love of the game! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My favorite trick of the year is a mind trick. Remember when I made a word puzzle full of happy words to prime my subconscious? If not, I talked about it and the scientific evidence supporting the technique here on Eight Ladies Writing. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I had a great writing week after I did it (see results here on 8LW), and I meant to do it again. Can you believe it’s been just a smidge over 11 months since we tried this? Well, here’s trial two, just in time to give your new year a little writing boost.

Will it really work? Well, it depends on how you work. Priming experiments haven’t been reliably replicated, but . . . it may work. A Psychology Today blog here explains how priming may be the first step in “canalization”; in other words, the first step in creating a track for your thoughts to flow down. If you can channel your thoughts in the same direction enough times, they will begin to flow in that direction naturally. But like the placebo that works if you think it will work (and there is scientific evidence to prove that it might), it just might work.

Here’s the game: I’ve jumbled up some positive words. Your task is to unjumble them, and then see what happens to your writing. I’ll report back next week with my results. Here we go: Continue reading

Michaeline: Prime Time

Radha and Madhav have an epiphany. Wikipedia says their connections are ones of marriage and mental love. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Radha and Madhav have an epiphany. Wikipedia says their connections are ones of marriage and mental love. Image via Wikimedia Commons

So, this January I’ve been reading a couple of books that touch on the psychological process of priming. Both Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow describe some experiments about priming. The key thing is that certain words can speed our minds’ processing of related items. So if you read speedy words, you are more likely to be able to read “racecar” faster than you read, say, “turtledove.” The experiments they cite suggest that the words we read can affect aspects of our thinking beyond reading, as well.

This is really quite exciting. I mentioned it in a comment earlier, and Kay played with the idea a bit. Could reading words like “cocoa”, “festive”, “fuzzy”, and “fleece” leave one feeling warm and happy, and make one walk with a little bounce in one’s step, a whistle on one’s lips?

Well, if it works, wouldn’t that be great? So, in the name of scientific discovery, Continue reading