I up and did it. I’m tooling along on a draft and had no idea what to do next. Not a clue.
Now, here’s the thing. If I had just a hundred pages or so, it would be easy. Just junk the whole thing, or set it aside and revisit it a couple months or years or decades later. But I had way more than that invested.
No way out.
Funny thing. When my back is up against the wall like that, interesting things happen. It’s what Andrei Nana called it in Psych Central: The no-exit strategy.
Simply put, if there’s an escape in sight I’ll take it.
If my only option is to complete the work, I’ll complete the work.
This idea isn’t new, Nana says. A couple of thousand years ago Sun-Tzu laid it out in the Art Of War:
“Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.”
Implementing any sort of change often requires the no-exit strategy. If someone decides to lose a whole bunch of weight to look good in a bathing suit, it may or may not happen. But if a doctor tells that person to lose that weight in order to stay alive, that ups the ante considerably. The only exit is feet first, so that becomes the commitment strategy.
Okay. Changing a habit to save your life is a whole different animal than finishing a writing project. The stakes are different. However, the strategies remain the same.
Get rid of the exit strategies and there’s only one way to go. Through it.