No. 108 | By Christine Carron
Editor's Note: This is the second post in the Goodjelly Moves series. Each of the five Moves represents a core quality or energy needed to ace the writing adventure. The Moves framework conveys the reality that productivity, like the seasons, is cyclical—requiring both activity and rest. Each Move is associated with one of the seasons: Possibility/Spring; Power/Summer; Process/Late Summer; Grace/Autumn; Patience/Winter.
For the full overview of the framework and a discussion of the first Move see: Possibility | Get Your Writing Moving, Part 1.
Power is the Move that we generally associate with productivity, and it’s the Move that writers often wish they could embody all the time. It’s also what many writers expect they will get from me when they hear I am a productivity coach for writers. Do it! Do it! Push through! Make it happen! Get your butt in the chair and write, already!
Let’s be clear: From a process perspective, there’s absolutely a time and place for intense pushes. Ideally, however, as a writer you are managing your writing in a way that puts YOU in charge of deciding to surge into a period of Power intensity, rather than outside forces (like a deadline with your editor) driving a panic, inner-critic-laced Power blast.
Are you wondering what being in charge of your process to that degree would look like? Here’s an example: One of the writers in the Goodjelly Jam Society* hadn’t been planning on working on her writing the last week of the year, intending to give herself some celebratory down time. However, with the main holiday whirl behind her and feeling inspired, she experienced a burst of energy and determination—an organic Power surge. Thanks to all the Goodjelly process know-how she’s built up, she is completely in charge of her open work.
She was able to quickly select a set of tasks from her backlog, set up her board (an advanced to-do list), and knock out a bunch of work. Done and Done. That’s what healthy Power and healthy surging look like. So let’s dive into exploring the Move of Power in more detail, just as we did with Possibility last week.
Possibility is Summer energy. Propulsion energy. Can-do spirit in action energy. Power is when a spark of Possibility ignites into a blaze of Power. Step back world, I’m on fire!
Power energy keeps you moving forward on a project. Day in, day out, it is the Move that allows you to break free of the gravitational force of not-doing-the-thing and into the stratosphere of doing-the-thing. Power is absolutely in play when you are writing. It’s also in play when you hold a boundary to protect your writing time. Or engage with your critique group, or study a new craft technique, or network at a conference.
Power is tuning in to what your creativity needs. It's doing what works for you and your creative process, no matter what other writers are doing. Power is also at play when you compassionately and calmly assess what isn’t working in your process and make adjustments—progress over perfection!
Power is absolutely a positive energy, but there is a Power imposter that looms large in our culture: Force. I want to bring forth this distinction between Power and Force as it is relevant to the writing adventure. It’s a distinction I first tuned into thanks to the book Power vs Force by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.:
Power is total and complete in and of itself and requires nothing from outside of itself. It makes no demands; it has no needs. Because force has an insatiable appetite, it constantly consumes. Power, in contrast, energizes, gives forth, supplies, and supports. Power gives life and energy. Force takes these away. We notice that power is associated with compassion and makes us feel positively about ourselves. Force is associated with judgmentalism and tends to make us feel badly about ourselves. (p. 154)
It is easy to maintain Power when we are in flow—i.e., when things are going well. Force can swoop in, though, when we are feeling blocked, when we are behind, when things aren’t going to our plan. I also see it creep in when writers struggle to maintain common writing rules, processes, and norms that simply don’t work for them. It also shows up when we keep pushing ourselves to (and past) the breaking point.
When you feel out of alignment with yourself, with your flow, and/or recognize you are pushing too hard, those are moments not to Force, but to pause, regroup, and go full Goodjelly on yourself: keep the judgment at bay and redirect toward compassion, to curiosity, to Power.
Even though Power is positive, like Possibility, it has a shadow side. Power’s shadow is Risk. Once we leave the wide open field of Possibility, we are making a choice—this (and not all those other possibilities) is where we putting focused energy. There’s always risk involved when we make a choice. It may be wrong, or not turn out like we hoped, or have negative consequences we didn’t foresee.
As noted last week, there is no solution to a Move’s shadow. Wherever there is Power, there will be Risk. However, what is particular delightful to me about Power’s shadow, is that attending to and managing it—i.e., managing Risk—is actually a Power move in and of itself.
When we have healthy Power energy we move our writing, and all our writing work, forward. We make decisions and commit to those decisions with confidence, with determination, with oomph. We get input and counsel from others, but take full responsibility for both making a decision and the results of that decision.
Like the other Moves, Power can be out of balance in two ways: deficiency or excess.
If you have a Power deficiency then you're missing the fire of follow-through. You may have lots of great ideas but are not moving any of them to the next step, whatever that may be. A Power deficiency might also be at work if things like doom-scrolling social media, household tasks, mindless TV, or other distractions are redirecting you off your creative project.
If you have a Power excess, you may barrel ahead too soon. You may be creating a lot of output but not necessarily achieving the outcomes you want. Indeed, glut power is happy to get a badge of busyness for busyness's sake.
Balanced Power, in contrast, ensures there is a clear connection between output and desired outcomes. Balanced Power knows that activity does not equal productivity.
Play around with the Goodjelly Move take on Power as this week unfolds. What do you notice? Is your Power balanced and fueling your writing progress? Do you have a Power deficiency or excess? Has some Force worked its way into your process or mindset? Whatever you notice, choose to meet it with Power—i.e., compassion and curiosity.
Next week, I’ll be back with Process, the third Goodjelly Move and the tipping point between the action and rest sides of the framework. Until then enjoy your powerfully fine self, and . . . you’ve got this!
* The Goodjelly Jam Society is an ongoing coaching program for graduates of The Jam Experience.
Explore the other posts in this series: