I’m glued to the Olympics and in awe of the dedication of the athletes involved. But as I watched the fist pumping, pep talks, bizarre warm-up rituals (like this German judo competitor) and the whoops of encouragement on display, I was reminded of a story I’d heard about the 28-times Olympic medallist swimmer Michael Phelps.
He credits his success not to his innate drive, motivation, or dolphin-like physique (although that probably helps), but rather his ability to adapt. His strategy - devised alongside his coach - was to visualise every possible thing that could go wrong when he got in the pool.
From diving short to losing his stroke to his goggles filling with water so he couldn't see (which actually happened) Phelps trained for everything that could go wrong. Why? Because when something inevitably did go wrong, he wouldn’t be fazed and he’d know what to do.
Whether you're a budding writer or Olympic wrestler, hope, optimism and ambition are vital but they must be accompanied by something else: a realistic sense of what will stop you and get in the way.
So keep going for gold, but also know what might trip you up along the way.
Our writing reset helps you break bad habits and develop new ones.
Previously called the bootcamp, this 4-week course features one-to-one support from Bec or Chris. Starting this November we have just 10 places available.
If your writing process isn't working for you and it's time make a change, we're here to help.
Find out more and join the wait list be first to know when places are released - and get 20% off.
"Joining Prolifiko’s Bootcamp was quite simply, the best decision I’ve ever made in support of my career."
- Stephanie, tenured professor
✍️ Try this: The power of constraints
Sometimes, writers wish they had more time to write. Other times, writers "clear the decks" to write but then spend their time doing anything but. If that sounds like you, try using constraints.
Constraints work because they give you focus, urgency and break the large intimidating writing project into smaller, bite-size chunks. You could give yourself a shorter time slot or reduce the word count:
🛑 write one paragraph per day then stop
⏰ write for 30 minutes a day and no more
🍅 use pomodoros, non-stop 25 minute chunks followed by a 5 minute break
It might sound counter intuitive, but it's far better to rack up some small wins and see your progress develop rather than sitting at your desk for hours producing little and feeling bad.
“The biggest enemy of art is the router in the hallway.”
– Maggie O'Farrell updates Cyril Connolly's "pram in the hall" quote for our modern, distracted times
This is the real life story of reverend Willie Maxwell, a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead.
A story that fascinates Alabama, news of Maxwell's case reaches Harper Lee - then, one of America's most famous writers - who becomes intrigued and attends the trial of the reverend's killer.
She plans on writing a true-crime classic just like her friend Truman Capote and spends years researching and write her novel The Reverend.
She never finished. Why?
😍 5 things we love
#1. Hemingfest: We love the new Hemingway documentary on BBC at the moment. If you can't access that, listen to this hilarious Moth story about how the great writer volunteered his friend as a bull fighter.
#2 Thanks to...: Anyone else obsessed by book acknowledgements? Here's why they matter and tell the story of the book.
#3 Home truths:Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott shares her 12 truths about life and writing in this classic TED Talk.
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🤷 Reading this for the first time?
Breakthroughs & Blocks is an email newsletter from writing productivity coaches Bec Evans and Chris Smith, co-founders of Prolifiko.