You can’t do it all alone. The starving artist, in the garret is not a plan for success. But writing is solitary, and we do spend a lot of our time alone. And since we’re geeky thinkers, we get up in our heads, and entertain all sorts of stories about what people think about us, about our writing, about our prospects.
As writing gets tangled, or marketing gets tense, we look around and see that we are alone. There’s no one out there, no one to help us. Nobody cares if we live or die.
Drama. Dread. Downer stuff.
Remember when you first had this idea? Remember how shiny and bright it was? It was fabulous idea, and enormous undertaking, a worthy project, that was going to change the world, or at least a small and important part of the world.
Well, that’s when you should use this tool – Assiters and Resistors – while the idea is still fresh and exciting, when you really believe in the importance and impact of this idea – before you get bogged down in the crappy thoughts that are headed your way. Inevitably.
Assisters & Resistors
Before you launch into your next project (or if you’re still in the honeymoon phase of your current project) take a minute. Pause. Restrain yourself from diving right in. Why? Because this moment of optimism is a gift to yourself for later when you’re, shall we say, less optimistic.
Take advantage of this shiny bright juice that is coursing through your heart and mind, to clarify what obstacles you might face, and which people might help you.
It’s easy. Just help yourself remember to do it.
- Write a list of about 100 people whom you know. It can start with your mom, and wend its way through work acquaintances and fellow writers, and people in the industry, or your brother’s cousin (if he/she is relevant.)
- Next to each name, stop and think if they will be an Assister or Resistor to your project. Resistors needn’t be actively out to get you – but your kids or your spouse might fall into this category, because they need you (or so they think) to do other things, when you should be writing.
- Give each name an A or an R – and some few names might be both Assister and Resistor. (I find I fall into both categories in most of my projects.)
- For each Assister, now, think about one small and specific thing they might do to help you. There’s a lot of possibilities. Let your brain range far and wide. Here’s some examples:
- Introduce me to a TV development guy
- Babysit one afternoon
- Connect me to her agent
- Be a beta reader
- Talk through a plot point
- Transcribe from recordings
- Take me out for a drink
- Crack me up
- Exercise with me
- Brainstorm headlines
- Help me promote the book to his community
- Help me write a press release or produce a VNR
- Talk me through how she did her Book Trailer
- Next to the “R” people – resistors – take a minute to think what form the resistance might take. And pre-consider how you might negate that resistance. Can you talk it through in advance? Can you make a bargain with the resistor? Can you simply avoid the resistor for a few months?
Or for that matter, accept that resistance. Let it take up a few of your precious hours. At least then, if it doesn’t come as a surprise, you might be able to contain the interruption to the actual event – and not all the stewing, brewing and resentment that follows.
- Consider ideas that might take your resistors all the way to assistance. You might have a small job for them. They might like being helpful, included, acknowledged.
Assisters & Resistors is a way to put your goodwill in the bank. Don’t you wish you could bottle your optimism sometimes? Well, this is one way to harness the incredibly positive energy at the start of a project, and store it until you need to use it. When you’re down, you visit your list, and take one small step to seek help. Depending on how low you get before you seek help, you may only be up for asking for a drink or a coffee. Do that one, see how you feel, then do another one.
People will embrace you. Most of us would rather help than be helped. You just have to have a small and specific suggestion as to how we might help you. Good luck!