Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Groundhog and Me

I am sitting inside with a blizzard raging outside. And I'm supposed to be thinking about lessons that took me a while to learn. And I'm thinking about writing lessons, and life lessons. And I realize that while I am a voracious learner (just finished watching an hour of How It's Made on the Science channel because I love learning how stuff gets built), I am a terrible learner of life's lessons.

Basically I KNOW what to do, I know what's worked and what hasn't, and yet I am still convinced that things will be different, that I can change them. Here's where I invoke Dr. Phil.

I was once watching a Dr. Phil episode and he was talking to guests who had problems. They continued to do the same thing expecting different results, and finally he asked, "So how's that working for you?"

It was a line I've thought in my head a million times since, whether it be a writing challenge (procrastinating because you can't figure out a scene, how's that working for you?) or life (this person is driving you crazy but you continue to deal with them the same way you always have, how's that working for you?).

The simple answer for Dr. Phil's guest and for most of us: It isn't working. So do something different!

But changing is hard. It takes discipline and work. And old habits die hard, if they die at all.

I am really lucky to have a best friend who (thanks to years of therapy and just general all around brilliance) comes up with lines that are so common sense and yet I want to smack my head and say, "Why didn't you think of that!"

You know why? Because diagnosing other people's problems is easy. Telling them how to solve their problems is easy. There is an objective detachment and lack of fear that the solution to a problem will take work and maybe cause some discomfort.

So, how does this relate to writing? Sometimes it's hard to look at our own writing and see the obvious - the holes, the disconnects, the characters and plot lines that just don't add up. And that sucks. And our writing needs a Dr. Phil. My Dr. Phil is my agent, my other best friend, my boyfriend. I tell them what I'm struggling with and their solution is so obvious. But so hard. Change an entire plot line? Go back and reevaluate a character? Eliminate a scene? Argh.

The lessons never end and the learning goes on. Even after ten published books. Popping out of a hole once a year to predict the weather? That groundhog has no idea how easy he really has it.

3 comments:

  1. SO true--a lack of fear is always involved with others' problems. When it's YOU? Not so easy. And no matter how long you've been at it, writing never gets any easier (but maybe that's part of the reason we love it so much)...

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  2. Because change is hard AND diagnosing other people's problems is easy. WOW--those are true statements that I dance with on a daily basis LOL!

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  3. When we see that the answer is "hard work," it's natural to avoid that and hope that some shortcut, some easier way, will present itself!

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