Train Your Brain Train Your Hands Work Your * Off – by Pam Uphoff

*I must re-send the invite to blog with us to Pam and Peter, and maybe this time the gods of wordpress will let it through, who knows?  Or maybe i have to drive to TX and put it up on her computer, myself. 😛  meanwhile, I’ll post for her.  So, please, welcome Mad Genius Pam Uphoff.  (And I vouch for both mad and genius in her case!)*

Train Your Brain


Train Your Hands


Work Your * Off


by Pam Uphoff




Writers and artists of all types try to take the ideas in their minds and bring them out into the exterior world in a form that other people can see. To get it down in some fashion so that the readers, viewers, and listeners will feel their emotions blossom, will understand new ideas, and maybe even change their own interior worldview.


For this they need techniques particular to their craft.


For the writer . . . it involves brains, hands, and a lot of hard work.




What do you need to train your brain to do?


Apart from the basics—a reasonable grasp of spelling, punctuation, and grammar and so forth—I can think of three things.


Train yourself to have ideas. No, don’t sit there with an open mind waiting for something to pop up like a mushroom. Think of your favorite character. Or better yet, your least favorite. What was his childhood like, or worse, his teen years? What would he have been like if his childhood had been different, if his parents hadn’t died, if he hadn’t been traumatized, or spoiled?  What about that book that went sailing across the room to impact the wall? What would a different sort of hero do in the same situation? And the romances! She fell in love with the wrong guy? Play Fairy Godmother. File off the serial numbers and hand her a difficult choice. Teleport her into the kind of world you like the best and start thinking about how she’d deal with that, not to mention those new fellows around. Not good enough? Grab your dictionary and pick five random words. Now logic out a story using all five words. Now throw logic to the winds and think up a strange story.


Train yourself to let go of logical thought and let your subconscious take over. Logic and plotting and being reasonable can get in the way of spontaneity. Role play like a gamer. Get into the main character’s head, like a Method Actor. Let out your inner B**ch and put some edge into that argument. Release your inner hero, and do what needs to be done.


Train yourself to shut off your inner editor while writing. Slide into writer mode, and out of editing. Put on your writer’s hat and hang up the editor’s. Lock the editor in a cage or a closet. Whatever imagery works for you, do it, and do it completely. _Do_ _not_ _listen_ to that internal editor—or worse—his evil twin, the internal critic.




Now, what about training those hands? Typing. The better you type, the faster you type, the better you can keep up with the thoughts in your head. Not to mention the lower numbers of typos. And while you’re at it, try to get into good hand position habits to help avoid carpel tunnel down the road. But the biggest trick is to type so much that it becomes effortless, automatic.


And yes, training the hands is inseparable from training the brain. But when you’ve got it, it’s like driving a car, it’s a combination of mental and physical coordination, divorced somehow from your immediate thoughts. Some odd zen state where the ideas flow though your conscious mind and through your hands.  Driving is a good analogy, since in both situations you can wind up at a destination different than the one you planned on. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes you have to backtrack and head the other direction.


That’s when the Inner Editor is released from his cage, and you logically analyze where you went wrong. _Then_ _lock_ _him_ _back_ _up_ _again._


And by the time you’ve trained both mind and hands, you’ll probably find that you have already worked your * off, and will think nothing of a few thousand words a day.


So get out there, train the brain and hands, and get to work. I need more books to read, and so do a lot of other people.


  1. I think it has to setting off something in my firewall. And just now I’m a bit leary of taking everything down to see if it works. After all, you are the _Evil_ Mistress of the Solar System.

  2. Apropos of nothing, I’ve found that getting up every hour, even if I don’t want to, and stretching, shaking my hands and loosening my wrists, and getting a water refill (and unfill) help keep things from getting too stiff while I’m typing. I use one rigid brace and one soft one (got carpal tunnel in college the first time) and those help too.

    1. I have had surgery in both wrists about a decade ago for carpal tunnel, fortunately it worked and at least so far the symptoms haven’t returned. But I could still definitely use better position for typing that I normally use (much less typing over the cat like I seem to end up doing, rather regularly, but if she doesn’t get the attention she wants I am not going to do much typing at all, during the last seven years aka the time I have had her she has figured out all the ways to totally annoy me).

      I have also seen some recommendations lately that it would be good if you got up about every fifteen minutes. Just stood up, then sat down again and resumed typing, no need to do anything else. I have tried using a timer and do that but admittedly it can become something of a chore. Might work if you have the patience to keep doing it for several days in a row, I suppose it could then become one of those habits you hardly notice.

  3. Find what works for you – there is no shortage of advice out there to try – and then stick to it. My brain now expects me to sit down and write with it from as soon as I get up to about 5 hours later – with up to two included naps, two meals, and, yes, a break every 50 min. for 10 min. (or less).

    It expects me to use my timers (I have 5 kitchen timers pre-set for 5, 10, 20, 35, and 50 min. sitting on the base of my monitor). It expects a particular sequence of creature comforts – accomplished in very few minutes.

    Experiment around it every once in a while if you can afford to – I can’t. My reward: words. A process that jerks things loose when I get stuck. Much faster progress. And deeper stuff dug out.

    When I used to leave it up to ‘feeling like writing,’ progress was snail like.

    YMMV – WILL vary – from everyone else’s, but will only help you.

    Or you can take forever. Your choice.

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