O is for Obstacles

Obstacles make the story. How your characters withstand, climb over, tunnel under, tickle into submission, and otherwise defeat their challenges is what matters most. But for the writers trying to pen these tales, obstacles are a bummer.

ImageI have my own pet writing obstacles (time scarcity, stints where I lack inspiration or the discipline to stare down the blank page, an internal critic that can at times silence my creative spirit, etc).

According to an article from The Atlantic, our fondness for procrastination stems from a number of common insecurities. Putting off the work can, for a time, provide a false sense of relief. For example, no one can criticize that poem I haven’t written yet.

If I’m experiencing self-doubt, perhaps I’ll simply line up a string of activities to eat up my time. That way, if the writing never gets done, I can simply point to having been “too busy” as the culprit. Surely, if I’d only had the time, my writing would have dazzled!

Evidently, many of us dread being found out as “frauds” so much that we’ll find any excuse under the sun to run when the going gets tough.

So how do we become the heroes of our own story, A Writer’s Tale, and conquer our obstacles?

Coincidentally, I am reading the book, Mindset by psychologist Carol Dweck, which The Atlantic article references (small world). Dweck claims that people fall into one of two categories when it comes to facing obstacles. There’s the “fixed mindset,” where people believe that they either do or do not possess the ability to excel at a task. If they possess the ability, the task will seem effortless. If they lack the ability, the task will seem hard and should be avoided because failure is inevitable. The other camp is the “growth mindset,” where people believe that talent can be acquired through effort. For them, challenges are relished as opportunities for learning.

At least in Dweck’s opinion, the path to pushing the plot forward in your personal version of A Writer’s Tale is this: Welcome and DO the work. Especially the hard work. Then look back and marvel at all the ways in which you’ve managed to grow.

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