Jacquelyn Smith

The Dreaded Halfway Point: Pushing through resistance


The Moment of Decision


When I was a teenager, I trained to be a lifeguard. In order to pass the course, we had to be able to perform this exercise that was known as The Brick.


I had already heard of The Brick. I didn’t really know what it was though. I had only heard ominous whispers from people who were taking the course again because they hadn’t passed the first time, which was just a little intimidating.


I couldn’t believe it when our instructors told us we would be performing the exercise on the first day of class. We all went out to the pool, and I saw what all the fuss was about.


The exercise entailed diving to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a rubber-coated brick, and carrying it back to the surface. It sounded easy enough. But you had to start off in the water. You couldn’t just dive in off the side of the pool. And the bottom was 13 feet deep.


And the brick weighed about 60 pounds.


This was somehow supposed to simulate the rescue of an actual person. All of the guys in the class went first, and they all did it no problem. Then it was the girls’ turn.


One of the other girls stepped up. She made it to the bottom, but halfway to the surface, she panicked and dropped her burden. She was really upset when she got out of the water. No one wanted to go next.


My friend (who was a freaking Amazon woman) made a deal with me. She would go next if I promised to go after her. I agreed. Of course, she conquered The Brick no problem. Now it was my turn.


I was totally freaked out. I didn’t even know if I could make it to the bottom, never mind carry The Brick. I had never gone that deep before. With everyone watching from the side, I dove beneath the water.


I actually got to the bottom much sooner than I thought I would. At first, I was excited that I had made it that far. Then I started looking around for that damn brick. I hoisted it onto my shoulder and crouched down as low as I could. Then I launched myself toward the surface, The Brick held above my head.


My momentum took me pretty far, but about halfway up, I slowed to a stop. The arm that held The Brick dragged down below my waist, pulling me back toward the bottom. I looked up. The surface was so far away! My lungs contracted and I realized I was running out of air.


I had a decision to make. Could I keep going, or should I drop The Brick and give up?


Hitting the Wall


I’ve noticed in the years since that this same moment of decision seems to happen during almost every long-term project I work on. I start with all kinds of enthusiasm, but after the initial shine wears off, the work becomes a grind. I might start looking for reasons (*cough*excuses*cough*) to move on to something else.


But I have also learned from experience that if I can push through that mid-project hump, my enthusiasm will return once I get past it. Even though I know this, I still find myself falling into the same pattern. I’ve been squirming in the middle of my first draft of Storm Rider for a little while now. It was only last week that I managed to break through.


Here are a couple of the things that have helped me:


Jedi Mind Tricks


At least half of every obstacle is mental. Sometimes, all you need to do is fool yourself into thinking your goal is less intimidating. Breaking it down into smaller chunks can make it seem achievable.


For example, I’ve been focusing on word count to measure my progress in Storm Rider. But I don’t know what my final word count will be until I finish. This makes my goal a large, vague, moving target, which hurts my brain. Since I already know how many chapters Storm Rider is going to be, I’ve decided to use chapters as my unit of measurement instead. Forty-seven chapters seems much less scary than 100,000+ words.


Confidence from Previous Experiences


One of the other things that really helps is remembering I have already broken through this barrier before with my other novels. If I’ve done it before, I can do it again.


Even if I didn’t have those other novel-writing experiences to draw on, I could remember any other time I overcame a halfway point of doubt. I can just think back to that day with The Brick, when I told myself, “Screw it. You might as well go for it. If you drown, there’s an entire class of lifeguards-in-training to rescue you. What have you got to lose?”


And somehow, I did it. I thrashed my way to the surface with The Brick in my hand. I still went through that same moment of truth every time I had to go get the stupid thing from the bottom of the pool, but each time it got a little bit easier. I guess it was good for more than just pretending to rescue a rectangular-shaped, rubber coated person. 😉



Anyway, I guess the point of this rambling post is that we have to push through resistance if we really want to grow and succeed. Don’t let your doubts hold you back. Go for it! I believe in you. :)


How do you push through resistance? What tricks do you use?     

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2 thoughts on “The Dreaded Halfway Point: Pushing through resistance

  1. James Garcia Jr

    Hi, Jacqui. Due to my schedule, I don’t write every day. I network every day and promote, but not write. What has worked for me since starting all of this is to really visualize the project before beginning it. Once I have it in my head, generally speaking, then I start pounding away. So far, I haven’t had any trouble getting to the end of a project or painting myself into any corners that make me frustrated and lose heart on a project.


    1. Jacquelyn

      Hi Jimmy,

      It does seem like my sticking point has become more pronounced now that I’ve ramped up my writing. It seems to be a little easier for me to keep my head down and keep going when I’m moving slow and steady. I feel like I’m really stretching my limits with my current, aggressive schedule, but I also feel like I’m growing at the same time.

      Visualization is a great recommendation. I use it too, but I could probably use it more regularly to keep the momentum going. 😉

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