On Not Being A Taxi If You Don’t Want to Be A Taxi
By Christine Carron
One of the core Goodjelly Moves is Power. Writing a novel takes serious solitude fortitude. Day after day, it’s just you, the page, and the story waiting for you to get its glory translated into sentences, scenes, and chapters. But, of course, solitude is only part of the process.
There’s a whole lot of collaboration involved in the making-a-book process as well. To ace collaboration without getting resentful, overextended, or discombobulated, it’s important to set and keep good boundaries. In order to do that, it’s important to be able to clearly state what you want and don’t want. Which is easier said than done. At least, that has been my experience. Take this gem of an example . . .
Many years ago, I was in an evening writing class, and one night as the class was getting started one of the students asked me, in front of everyone, if I would drive him home. If I wouldn’t, he would have to call his wife who was busy or something—I can’t even remember the exact circumstances. Basically, I was the solution to his problem of not having a ride home from class. I didn’t want to be his solution; I didn’t want to be his taxi. At all. I was tired, I didn’t know him from boo, and I just wanted to get home and get to bed. So, of course, I said, “Yes, I will drive you home.”
Wait, what? Yes, that is what I said. And then I drove him home (resentfully, which wasn’t pleasant for either of us), but even worse: I fumed for days—at him and at myself. In the midst of all that fuming, what I was not doing was writing. That, my friends, was a boundary fail on my part, which had a direct negative consequence on my writing.
Now, you may be thinking, “I would have just told the dude, ‘No.” Or perhaps, if you had driven him home, you simply wouldn't have stewed. If so, awesome. But if you have any sensation of recognition inside you, like a little sinking feeling, of oh, I might have done the same thing, then you might find the following prompt useful.
It won’t solve all your boundary-setting challenges but, if done regularly, will help you see patterns around where you get tripped up in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. Seeing a pattern is the first step in changing a pattern (i.e., a behavior that perhaps is no longer serving you.)
Note: This is not just a writing prompt, but a writing life prompt. It may look fairly simple, but it’s deceptively powerful. It is all about ensuring you acknowledge, as you go forward, that your wants and needs matter, too, on this writing adventure.
The Goodjelly Prompt of the Week
Step 1: Write down three past experiences where you felt resentful or annoyed at someone else and it negatively impacted your ability to focus on your writing.
Step 2: One by one, put yourself back in the scene in those situations and ask yourself:
- What am I doing that I don’t want to be doing?
- What am I not doing that I want to be doing?
Step 3: Note any patterns you see or ahas that bubble, or burst, up.
Step 4: Do a happy dance to celebrate building your boundary-setting awareness and prowess. That’s some major Goodjelly!
One extra tip: You can also use these questions in the moment, whenever you experience resentment swirling inside you. They will help you (a) untangle exactly what is going on and (b) settle back into calm centeredness, i.e., back into your Power.
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