procrastination

The Power of Procrastination in Writing, Thinking

The Weekly Walt

Hello, creators. I hope you are feeling well. I hope you are happily creating. Most of all, I hope you see how that first thing influences that second thing.

Today we’re going to put forth a few new ways to look at those productivity-sappers:

• procrastination
avoidance
• lethargy

Or, maybe we should delay that and take a walk.

No! I’m kdding! We’re doing it! First:

Think you’re procrastinating? Maybe you’re not. Or maybe you are for a very good reason.

I’ve been a freelance writer long enough to give myself a break about procrastination, and its close cousin, avoidance. Also in that stew is good ol’ self-pity. In fact, to cheer up a colleague who was feeling all of that, I made up this circle graph documenting my “copywriting process.” Any of this look familiar?

In case you can’t read it or the image doesn’t appear, the steps are:

  1. Study creative brief.
  2. Ask for clarifications.
  3. Research
  4. Feel sorry for myself and vow to quit copywriting forever.
  5. Sit butt in chair and finally write for 3-4 hours.
  6. Rinse and repeat until the copy is fantastic.
  7. Get genuinely excited about presenting and producing.
  8. Do so, then have knowledge of subject matter leave short-term memory forever.

#4, in red, is by far the largest slice of the pie. By far.

My point of this almost-funny admission is this: procrastination (and even feeling sorry for yourself) can actually be an important part of the copywriting process. Because you are working during that time in the “red.” The sub-conscious is working. Always. When you walk away. When you eat a banana. When you scroll through Twitter. Okay, maybe not that. But when you return to the page, you’ve made more progress than you think.

As August Birch says in the article How to Engage Your Subconscious Mind to Solve Your Toughest Problems:

Think of your subconscious as the back-office of your brain, dealing with all the deep tasks, while your conscious mind cooks dinner, navigates through traffic, chooses which Netflix show to watch, and holds a conversation. Ever notice all the green cars after you buy a green car, or you take out the trash and a great idea pops in your head from nowhere? This is your subconscious hard at work in the background.

August Birch

Many home-based creators, me among them, can name time after time when, after stepping back and behaving in what feels like procrastination, magic happens. An immediate “ah-ha” after sitting back down. An easier flow.

This tip can be boiled down to one thing:

Trust the process.

And if procrastination is part of your process, trust it., too (As long as you don’t miss any deadlines because of it. That’s another thing entirely.)

Finally, we turn to the Dang Gnats for another fun, proven and sweet remedy for improving your mood, and therefore your productivity: 

Chocolate.

Take it away, gnats!

Okay, that’s it for this week. Thanks for coming to my newsletter about the intersection of creativity and wellness. Keep feeling better, everyone. And keep creating. Creating more will make you feel better, which will allow you to create more.

Wait a minute. I sense a pattern here. Can it really be that simple?

I asssure you:

It can!

Benefits of Ginseng Explained | Content Writing by Walt

articles, Content Writing, Ezines, Reporting, Science

“Ginseng is a Drugstore”

By Walt Jaschek

This story about the many benefits of the man-root called ginseng was one of a series of articles on modern breakthroughs in science I wrote for a Sigma-Aldrich ezine reaching clients in scientific research. I came away with a real appreciation for ginseng.  True fact: I take it every day myself now. 

ginseng

It has no lighted parking, no drive-through pharmacy and no giant displays of shampoo, but make no mistake: ginseng is a drugstore.

“A virtual drugstore,” clarifies Laura Murphy, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Medicine. Dr. Murphy’s research lab has released a series of groundbreaking findings relating ginseng to the slower growth of cancer cells.

“Ginseng has 30 different ginsenocides, supponent glycosides, polysaccharides, plus fiber and protein,” says Dr. Murphy. “There are 50 different compounds that affect the body, all through unique mechanisms. Working with ginseng is complex and challenging.”

Tan and gnarled, ginseng root has a forked shape, resembling human legs – hence its original Chinese name renshen, or “man root.” Central to Eastern medicine for 4,000 years for its many alleged healing properties, the chemically rich Panex quinquefolius is now under the microscope in labs throughout the world – notably in Dr. Murphy’s own.

But her recent news-making headlines about ginseng started years ago with another herb altogether. “In the 90s, we started doing research on the neuroendocrine effects of cannabinoids,” says Dr. Murphy, editor of a book on the subject. “We were treating animals with marijuana and looking at effects on male copulatory behavior.” (Side note: They have an inhibitory effect.)

“In putting together that cannabinoids paper, we saw that ginseng was anecdotally reported to stimulate libido. We extended the project to include it and I couldn’t believe the results. We did it two more times, same results.”

Newly intrigued by ginseng, Dr. Murphy tightened her focus on the science of the storied root. She learned Asian researchers were doing most of the recent clinical work, and most of that was about ginseng’s effectiveness in treating cancer cells. “It made me wonder if the discussed cancer-affecting qualities could be confirmed in the research lab.”

An endocrinologist, Dr. Murphy began her lab’s project with a supply of human breast cancer cells grown for researchers. When she and her students treated some of these cells with an American ginseng extract, they found this: the higher the doses, the slower the cancer cells grew. With a high enough dose, they could actually stop the cells from growing.

“It was consistent and repetitive,” says Dr. Murphy. “A very clean result.”

With similar findings came increased funding: from the university, the Department of Defense, the National Cancer Institute, the Penny Severns Fund, and the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine. The work expanded quickly.

“We wanted to see if we could get the same results in an animal as we got in a Petri dish, and we did. It was the first time an effect in animals has been document,” Dr. Murphy says.

Next up for her lab: studies on the relationship between ginseng and chemotherapy. “We submitted a grant proposal to the NCI that would involve us looking at ginseng’s chemo-preventive effects. Can ginsengs be used concurrent with chemotherapy drugs?”

In all her with with ginseng and cancer, Dr. Murphy cites a challenge within a challenge: molecular pathway management. “As the ginsenocides and polysaccharides act on the cancer cell, a lot of pathways are affected. We use Panorama arrays from Sigma-Aldrich. It provides a system which deals with signal transduction pathways, cell signaling and apotois. The Panorama arrays are quite specific to the pathways we’re looking for.”

As our interview was concluding, we just had to know: does Dr. Murphy herself take ginseng?

“Yes. I make a tea from the raw root,” she says, laughing. “I like the taste of it and believe in its restorative properties. I believe if you’re a healthy person, it’s good for you, and if you’re unhealthy, it will make you better.”

Ah. If only a real drugstore made it that easy!

Article by Walt Jaschek