• Gina Greenlee, Author

Use the Difficulty


OMG. Now what?

What we focus on expands. I know this because there was a time when I attempted to distract myself from writing anxiety with overeating, Internet surfing, and Ted Talk binges I rationalized as “research.” Result? Anxiety under a spotlight. You know the adage; “Try not to think about a pink elephant” and pink elephants are all you imagine.




All the World’s a Stage

Then, an acting prompt from my theater days popped into my head: “Use the difficulty.” When actors encounter a mishap during a stage performance, they transform it for good purpose by employing this technique. Unlike film, in live performance, there are no multiple takes. If a theatre actor misses a cue or falls on stage, he doesn’t ignore the fumble. Instead, he “uses the difficulty” by creatively transforming the moment.




Stand-up comedians exemplify this dynamic. It is part of their training-by-fire to transform heckling into advantage. Rather than lament the interruption, the experienced comedian incorporates taunts into the routine. It is an opportunity to sharpen the toolkit, display chops, put the heckler in his place and the audience on notice: “I’m in charge.”


Similarly, rather than obstruct or ignore writing anxiety, “use the difficulty.” Respond directly to the writing, one word at a time, rather than react to thoughts about the writing. This hyper focus on the present leaves no brain space to ruminate on imagined fears.


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Fun Ways to “Use the Difficulty”


The Writer’s Toy Chest


Cookin’ the Books


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