01 September 2014

Witness a Writer's Transformation

Her self-talk is brutal about how she never follows through on her writing goals, shakes her head at how many vacation days she's taken for the express purpose of writing the entire time only to veg in front of the television telling herself all sorts of loser stories about herself to herself, sinking deeper into despair and the impossibility of her situation.

That's all backstory. Her inciting incident in this scenario in her life is when she signs up with me. In the next few months, she shows me all of who she currently is -- her baseline data as it relates to this story at this time in her life.

The sacrifices she makes to afford to work with me does nothing to spur her to be accountable to herself. During many of the two-week periods between checking in with me, she does no writing at all. When she does write, she shows up session after session, ashamed of not writing more, not being good enough, not knowing how to write well enough. Drowning in excuses, her pattern emerges.

Rather than give her what she seems to be waiting for -- confirmation that yes indeed, she is a mess, a failure, unworthy -- instead I offer strategies to bridge the way from where she quakes on one side of the rapids to the calm meadow of acceptance on the other side. She keeps paying my fee and wanting to talk at the conceptual level. I keep dragging her out of her fears and into the concrete here-and-now, brainstorming one scene after another and reminding her again and again about the treasures waiting in her story -- she has a couple of fantastic elements that make for a rocking concept.

The moment she crosses over into the exotic world of being a true writer -- writing -- and leaves behind the pretender and talker about being a writer is the day she shuts off the cable to her house and removes the television. We both know the darkness this exotic new world she's entering represents to her and many of the most powerful antagonist that await her. The resistance doesn't magically disappear, though it can by taking full responsibility for our choices. After a smooth month or two, her schedule changes, forcing her to write at home rather than in the safety of a crowded coffee shop. One of her beloved cats dies. The other beloved clings to her.

Now, well aware of where she is on her own personal Universal Story journey and what to watch out for, she finds no place to hide. She can't go back. She's a sponge for any and all advice and support I offer her. She wants this. She wants to write this story from beginning to end. And somewhere even deeper, I hear her desperate cry to heal the festering wound she's been picking at all her writing life, perhaps her entire life.

I ask her to write in every room of the house (lots of resistance to her writing room) and keep a record of how long she writes in each space and how she feels writing there. Unexpectedly, she stumbles upon an exact right spot. When she compares her progress writing at that spot to all others, she understands that she actually likes to write there.

As fiercely as she longs to dabble in the safety of the beginning of her story, now, in her exact right writing space with concrete scene ideas, she writes into the exotic world of her story. The story and major characters begin to enliven her. As she grows stronger, her negative self-talk fades. Excitement and energy for her story build. Her own personal transformation begins.

Yes, a crisis likely awaits her. Still she's gaining the strength and beliefs and self-knowledge needed not to be felled by whatever comes as she writes deeper and deeper into her story.

A climax also await -- I have every faith in her (and in each of us) that if she wants it, she will triumph and in the end hold in her hands a completed novel from beginning to end with a plot.

Today I write!
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
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