Possibility | Get Your Writing Moving, Part 1
No. 107 | By Christine Carron
The core premise behind Goodjelly is my conviction that while the writing adventure is hard, there are countless ways to make it easier. One of those ways is to keep a healthy, balanced perspective about all aspects of the journey, from the way we manage our work, to the way we view our progress, to the expectations we hold of ourselves.
Through Goodjelly’s classes and coaching programs, I teach writers strategies and tactics that unleash their productivity, sometimes so dramatically they are astounded. I’ve been blocked on that for months and now . . . it’s done!?!?!
The tricky bit is that—no matter the demonstrated process improvement—if those same writers don’t fine-tune their mindset, i.e., their perspective, they still will find ways to mentally and emotionally short-circuit their progress.
The confounding truth is that we writers often have a tendency to get in our own way. Myself included, which is probably why the foundational framework I made for Goodjelly was a perspective-strengthening framework: The Goodjelly Moves.
I have taught the Moves framework in various classes and have alluded to it in posts but have never written in depth about it. Until now. I decided “getting out of our own way” was a great theme for the first blog series of this new year, and the Moves framework is a perspective-setting tool to help us do just that.
Today’s post will give an overview of the Moves and then dive into more detail on the first move: Possibility. We’ll roll through the remaining Moves in the weeks ahead.
The Goodjelly Moves Overview
The Moves model conveys the notion that progress and productivity are more cyclical than linear, i.e., requiring both activity and rest. There are five Goodjelly Moves: Possibility, Power, Process, Grace, and Patience. Each represents a core quality or energy needed to ace the writing adventure, and each is associated with the energy of one of the seasons— the seasons being a perfect metaphor for cyclical productivity.
- Possibility: Spring
- Power: Summer
- Process: Late Summer
- Grace: Autumn
- Patience: Winter
On the surface, this probably makes sense. We get the seasons: Cool, productivity is cyclical. Activity. Rest. Got it.
In practice, however, a cyclic view of productivity is not a comfortable perspective in our modern age. The milieu we live in is activity, activity, activity; do, do, do. Elon Musk’s recent hardcore requirement for the remaining Twitter staff is a perfect expression of linear productivity mentality. Top speed. One direction. Maxing out. All the time.
Linear Productivity is Not Sustainable
“Hardcore” is not a sustainable productivity practice. It will, of course, work to a degree for Elon Musk: when workers burnout and quit, he will hire more. Done and done.
As individual writers we don’t have such a luxury, and it has nothing to do with our bank accounts. Simply put: we are each a workforce of one. If we burn ourselves out on the writing adventure, we will have zero productivity until we get ourselves back into health and balance.
Even if we don’t buy into the hardcore productivity model—as I clearly don’t—it is so normalized, it impacts us. For example, a common problem with us writers is that even when we make solid progress, we diminish it. Why? Because it’s not meeting some impossibly high bar (set by a linear productivity/max’ing standard) we have in our heads. When we consistently fail to meet this faux standard, we get down on ourselves, our Inner Critics attack, and motivation tanks, taking our productivity with it.
The Goodjelly Moves to the Rescue
The Goodjelly Moves framework is the antidote to the hardcore downward spiral. It reminds us that productivity has both an active side and a rest side.
The first two Moves—Possibility and Power—are the fully active ones. Process is next. It is the transitional Move of the cycle as it combines aspects of both activity and rest. Finally, Grace and Patience make up the rest side of the cycle, where productivity looks a little different than what we’re used to. That can, at times, make us a resistant to them.
But we won’t have to deal with any resistance today, because we will be abloom with Possibility . . .
The First Move: Possibility
Possibility is Spring. Rising energy. The thrill of beginning. Of starting. Of pure promise. It’s the upward surge of ideas and imagination. Creativity blooming. Think fields awash in tulips. Beautiful, joyful, glorious.
Possibility is fun!
It’s also seriously fierce—it takes a whole lot of energy for a shoot to burst out of its seed, push through the soil, and reach for the sun.
But make no mistake, Possibility is also tender and delicate. We have to nurture and protect the seedlings of Possibility. Perhaps from our own Inner Critics. Perhaps from outside critical forces.
How Possibility Serves our Writing Adventure
Possibility is the initiating spark that drives every writing project. It’s also in play every time you send out a query letter or submit your work for a fellowship or an award. Every time you sit down to write again after a rejection or creative lull. And if you’ve been following Goodjelly for any length of time, you are likely familiar with my rallying cheer: You can do this!
That is me willing you (and me!) to believe in the Possibility of our writing dreams. They are possible!
The Shadow Side of Possibility
Each Move has a shadow. A challenging aspect. For Possibility, the shadow is Uncertainty. Why? Because when everything is possible, nothing is certain.
Yes, I have this idea, but will it really work? Yes, I’m starting this novel, but will I really finish it? Yes, I’m sitting down to write again, but what if those rejections are actually right? What if I do all this work and I still fail?
There is no solution to a Move’s shadow. That is the paradox. Wherever there is Possibility, there will be Uncertainty.
Possibility In Balance
When we have healthy Possibility energy we are aligned with our creative potential and confidently taking first steps wherever first steps are needed: the first words of a novel, the first words of a writing session, the first fixes in a revision, the first posts to build our platform, exploring new craft techniques, taking a new workshop or class, etc.
Possibility in Balance is focused on the upside of Possibility without being hampered by its shadow of Uncertainty. Sure this may not work, and I’m going to do it anyway.
Possibility Out of Balance
Moves can be out of balance in one of two ways: deficiency or excess.
If you have a Possibility deficiency then you are missing that starting spark energy. Maybe things feel hopeless, so why bother? Maybe the uncertainty of it all is keeping you from taking the first steps.
With an excess of Possibility, uncertainty also is at play. Instead of being overwhelmed into non-action, however, glut Possibility means we try to resolve the uncertainty by Figuring. Everything. Out.
You all know with my project management background that I love me a healthy plan, but glut Possibility mode is over-planning, i.e., trying to create an infallible plan. Glut possibility could also show up as analysis-paralysis, where you just keep researching and researching and never write.
Whether by deficiency or excess, getting stuck in Possibility will hinder our writerly progress.
Let the Moves Move
If you find yourself stuck in Possibility, remember it is a move, part of a dynamic, cyclical flow. Trust that you (and your productivity) can and will flow again.
In the final post of this Goodjelly Moves post series, I will cover the ways you can get yourself flowing if you find yourself stuck in a Move. But we need all the Moves outlined first for the get-unstuck process to make sense. So . . . cliffhanger.
For now, look for all the ways Possibility is in active play on your writing adventure this week. Where you are taking first steps, stretching toward something new, and generally believing in yourself regardless of current circumstances.
Be sure to enjoy that blooming energy once you spot it. And, of course, you’ve got this!
Explore the other posts in this series: