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Hey, Dan here. We’re doing something a little different for this episode of the seanwes podcast.
In the seanwes Community, we do a special live show every Monday morning, called Fired Up Mondays. This is our community office hours, where members can ask questions and get answers right there on the show. This is just one of the many benefits of seanwes membership. To find out more, click here: seanwes membership.
Normally, Fired Up Mondays is members-only. But Sean suggested that we put this episode out on the regular feed.
You’ll notice this show is a little different from the usual seanwes podcast. It’s a solo show, and I’m answering questions from our members and touching on a variety of topics.
At the end, I give an update on my own “side-hustle”: the novel I’m writing. This is because Sean, well, basically dared me to talk about the novel every week as a form of accountability.
Ugh! This guy, amirite? 😉
There’s some context for what you’re about to hear. It’s a little different from the usual podcast, but still full of value. I hope you enjoy it!
Ben and I will be back next week with another episode of the seanwes podcast. Thanks for listening!
Today Dan gave a brief update on how Sean and Laci are doing, and tackled a question about how to stay sane during the holidays. If there’s a unifying theme, it’s all about prioritizing rest. It’s easy to sacrifice your own needs to meet your expectations—but that’s just asking for burnout.
- 02:17 – What’s going on with seanwes while Sean is full-time with Laci? How are they doing?
- 05:07 – How do you stay sane with holidays coming up? There's so much to balance. Also, holiday times tend to lead to wanting to slack off leading up to the end of the year. Is anyone else feeling burned out?
- 14:59 – Being frustrated about losing digital records of my activity, and confusing the map with the territory
- 24:44 – Dan’s Novel Talk
Resource & Links Mentioned:
- Podcast: 456: My Wife’s Eating Disorder Almost Killed Her
- Instagram: Sean McCabe (@seanwes) • Instagram photos and videos
- Podcast: Fired Up Mondays 085: Giving Your Course Away for Free, Finding Your Niche, Multi-page Opt-ins, and the Challenge of “Organic” Reach
- Podcast: 140: Supercharge Your No With a Reason for Saying Yes
- Podcast: 445: How and When To Say “No”
- Website: If you forgot the passcode for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or your device is disabled – Apple Support
- Website: Map–territory relation – Wikipedia
- Article: The Personal Analytics of My Life—Stephen Wolfram Writings
- Article: The Buddhist Parable of the Raft: When to Let Go of the Dharma, Too
- Website: Tamagotchi – Wikipedia
- Website: Ring Fit Adventure – Wikipedia
- Website: Coaching – Joseph Nassise
- Book: The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran
Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated by Descript and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.
Dan: Welcome to fire it up. Mondays it is November 25th I hope everyone had a good weekend. I think there might be a holiday going on in the United States of America, but I’m honestly not sure. No, I’m kidding. It’s Thanksgiving down there. Canada has Thanksgiving also, but for some reason we have it in October.
[00:00:20] Not 100% sure why the difference, although I’m sure I was taught that in high school history class and I’ve just forgotten it. Anyway, I hope everyone’s celebrating. Thanksgiving is having a good and restful holiday, although we’re going to get to a question about that in just a second. First, Alex asked, what’s going on with Sean West?
[00:00:44] While Sean is full time with Lacey, how are they doing so. If you, uh, if you need to get caught up on the whole story, you can go back to Sean dot com slash four 56. Uh, Sean posted a very, uh, it’s, I’ll warn you, it’s very intense. He, uh, but he posted a little podcast episode explaining, um, what he and Lacey had been going through recently.
[00:01:14] And so he has been taking time away from the business to focus entirely on taking care of her. And, uh, and as a result, I haven’t really talked to him that much in the past week. We’ve, uh, you know, we’ve exchanged text messages about this and that, but he’s really been prioritizing rest, which is good.
[00:01:35] Mmm. The, the, probably the best way to, to hear updates from Sean is to follow him on Instagram, instagram.com/sean Wes and let him know that you want to hear how he’s doing. And, uh, maybe remind him that even sharing updates about little things would be useful because I know he, he struggles to just share bits and pieces that seem irrelevant or don’t form a coherent story.
[00:02:01] But then, you know, whenever he does post about just having a little coffee date, uh, you know, we all appreciate hearing about it. So, um, so don’t tell him I told you this, but maybe you should go over to Instagram and, and ask him how he’s doing. As for Sean, Wes, the, uh, the business keeps on trucking as usual.
[00:02:22] Before Sean decided to step away, we were working on getting Sean West media off the ground. Uh, if you want to know a little more about what the intentions are there, Sean talks about it, uh, in a couple of places, but one of them is fired up Monday’s dot com slash 85. That’s episode 85 of this show.
[00:02:44] Uh, which is a great episode, actually. It’s called giving your course away for free, finding your niche multipage opt-ins and the challenge of organic reach. So there’s a lot of stuff in that show. And Sean also talks about what we’re planning to do with Shawn West media. So mostly, mostly that’s in a bit of a holding pattern, you know, until Sean feels that he has capacity to return to work.
[00:03:11] And that’s fine. I mean, this is one of the benefits of running a business is that it can keep moving even when you need to take time away from it. So, uh, you know, I know Sean feels very fortunate and grateful that, that he’s in that position. So that’s pretty much it for the update. Now to get to the main question of the show, Tony asked, how do you stay sane with holidays coming up.
[00:03:39] There’s so much to balance. Also, holiday times tend to lead to wanting to Slack off, leading up to the end of the year. Is anyone else feeling burned out? Well, I’m sure that’s probably, uh, a rhetorical question. No doubt. A lot of people feel burned out coming up on the holidays in the chat.
[00:03:58] Garrett says, my dude, I have a Thanksgiving event Wednesday, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday afternoon, Friday night. And Sunday afternoon dash night. I mean, I’m tired just listening to that. So I guess I’m grateful that Canada’s Thanksgiving is already in the past, but it’s still the holiday season and this is when people’s calendars tend to start to explode.
[00:04:25] So what are we supposed to do about this in terms of staying sane? I’ll tell you my angle on this. My angle on it is. Expected stress is better than unexpected stress. Like knowing that the holidays are coming and it’s going to be stressful is of course better than, you know, getting in a minor car accident and having to deal with it, but it’s still stress.
[00:04:52] It’s still stress. The, I think it’s easy for us to overlook the impact of stress that we expect. You know, we, we rationalize it away. We say. Well, I shouldn’t be burned out or stressed or overworked. I mean, after all, it’s the holidays. It happens every year. The fact of the matter is your brain and body don’t really differentiate, like expecting things is better, an unexpected stress, but the expected stressors still contribute.
[00:05:20] So first I want to say that if you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed, you’re not bad or broken, and you’re certainly not alone. This is natural way to feel when there’s a lot going on. So the question is what do you do about it? I can think of a couple things. First, you have to get real serious about your priorities, serious and realistic, and in fact, I’m going to correct myself.
[00:05:48] This idea of priorities. I’ve heard it said on the other hand, that you can’t have priorities. You can only have a priority. You can only have one thing at a time that is going to take your focus and attention. It’s exactly the point where we start thinking that we have like 10 priorities and they all have to fight with each other, that we start losing our heads.
[00:06:12] So in terms of the holidays, what are your priorities? I think, I mean, some of the language and Tony’s question is interesting. She said holiday times tend to lead to wanting to Slack off, leading up to the rest to the end of the year. Mm. There wasn’t really a question about that, but. I guess I read that sentence and my initial response was, so what’s wrong with that?
[00:06:37] What’s wrong with slacking off? What’s going to happen if you Slack off? I guess one of two things. Either you are in the position where if you let up at all on your work, for example, you’re going to be ruined, and I hope that isn’t the case. But on the other hand, it might just be that you have set these extremely high expectations of yourself and you’re looking at the holidays and thinking, well, now I’m not going to be able to meet them.
[00:07:09] I think it’s best to realize and accept that, yeah, you know, you are going to be operating at reduced capacity during the holidays and that’s okay. You going talk about Shawn prioritizing rest before and the overall idea of. Taking regular sabbaticals. The theory behind it is that we all need to prioritize a rest and we need to do it a lot more than we already do.
[00:07:35] And that further prioritizing rest this way is not a luxury. It’s a necessary part of keeping ourselves functional. I mean, the question started with how do you stay sane with holidays coming up in terms of staying sane. This is how you do it. You, you need to prioritize that rest. So, you know, Garrett was talking about having like something on every single night and Oh man, like that hits me right in the gut.
[00:08:04] I just, you know, some people may be like a fuller social calendar. I find that if I have more than one or two evenings in a week where I have stuff. Going on where I have to like, especially when I have to go out and go somewhere at like 6:30 PM and I’m not going to get home until 11 more than one or two of those a week.
[00:08:25] And I’m just spent. And part of that might be that I’m 37 years old and just, you know, don’t have as much energy as I did a decade ago, but to be honest, a decade ago, I still didn’t really like that. You know, maybe that’s introversion, but whatever the cause is. I think, I think it’s a drain on, on everybody having so much going on.
[00:08:51] If you’ve already committed to things, that’s difficult, but an important point to make is you don’t have to say yes to everything. In fact, it’s really quite important that you don’t say yes to everything, and we’ve talked about this before. We’ve talked about saying no by default. There’s a couple episodes of the podcast to check out here that going way back into the archives.
[00:09:16] We never go full episode one but episode one 40 supercharge your know with a reason for saying yes. Go to Sean west.com/one four zero and Sean west.com/four four five for how and when to say no. That’s a more recent episode that Ben and I recorded. There’s a pretty persuasive argument in there.
[00:09:40] Four, shifting, shifting how you regard commitments to people and how important it is to not overload yourself. Now I know that you’re hearing that and because the holidays are coming up, you’re rolling your eyes because you can’t say no when all your friends and family and coworkers want you to do things all the time.
[00:10:05] Well, go back and listen to those episodes. If you’ve, and again, like if you’ve already committed to doing 20 things next week, maybe it’s too late for you, but if you haven’t loaded up your holiday calendar entirely yet, maybe let me make that, that, uh, contrarian suggestion that you say no a little more whenever you can.
[00:10:34] So saying no planning for the stress and the other thing to plan for, to keep yourself sane during the holidays. Recognize that you’re going to need to take care of yourself. I’m hesitant to use the phrase self care because like a lot of other words in this space, it feels like it’s, it’s starting to become a little bit of a parody of itself.
[00:10:55] But you know, the concept is sound. We. Oftentimes except things for ourselves that we would never put on another person. It’s important to realize that. It’s important to realize that we each of us like we need as much care. If you imagine your best friend. I liked the, I always liked this analogy of like , you know, thinking about what you say to yourself and your self talk or what you do, what you allow into your life.
[00:11:24] Ask yourself if your best friend told you they were going through this, what would you tell them that that was okay? And a lot of the times the answer is no. If you wouldn’t accept something for your best friend, you should not accept it for yourself either. So as the holidays are coming up. Think about saying no to stuff, but also just consider what kinds of self care might be helpful for you.
[00:11:52] Consider what things that you would otherwise do that you can maybe let go of. Maybe set aside even just for the next couple months. I mean, one thing in terms of business to recognize about the end of the year, the year end is busy for a lot of jobs and businesses, but another thing to look at, especially if you do say client work.
[00:12:14] Is that just like you have plans for the holidays, everyone else does too, so you know unless someone’s really forcing you, I don’t think there’s a good reason to drive yourself hard into the ground during the holidays. I mean, who’s there waiting on you to finish up work anyway? They’re all out eating Turkey.
[00:12:36] They’re all out eating Turkey. I think that’s pretty much how I’m going to sum up this question. So expect and plan for reduced capacity, expect and plan how you’ll take care of yourself and have a good holiday season. And as always, feel free to start a conversation in the community if you need to get more tactical about how to deal with situations during the holidays, whether they’re business related, family related or whatever.
[00:13:08] So those were the questions we had today. Now, aye. Have reluctantly decided to keep giving updates on this novel that I may or may not be working on. But first,
[00:13:23] something happened last night, and I think there’s a, uh, there’s a lesson that I can pull out of it. I hadn’t used my iPad in a while. I have an iPhone and an Apple watch and an iPad, and they all have the same pass code. So I, I charged up my iPad. And of course, when you first turn on an iOS device, you can’t use your fingerprint or your faced on locket.
[00:13:53] You have to enter your passcode. And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember my past code. And then I tried typing it into my watch, which I do every one every morning when I unlock it. And I kept getting it wrong. And when you enter your pass code wrong on these devices, too many times they do this thing where they say, okay, I’ve just, your devices disabled for a minute, and then it lets you try again.
[00:14:20] And if you get it wrong again at disables it for five minutes and the next time, 15 and the next time an hour and et cetera. So now I’m starting to freak out because for some reason I really can’t remember my passcode. And every time I try and and get it wrong, I’m like locking out my devices for longer and longer.
[00:14:48] long story shorter, I end up restoring all my devices from backup, all three of them, my iPod, my phone, and my watch. So this was a fun way to spend the time between like 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM last night when I would have preferred to be in bed. But what’s the point of this? So among other things, I, I joined a long time ago.
[00:15:12] I joined what Sean calls three rings club. Um, to pull back the curtain a little bit, this is actually how I sorta got to know Sean and eventually ended up working for him was not just because I own an Apple watch, but it’s because I joined this little club of his, where we, we make sure that we close all of our Apple watch rings every single day.
[00:15:35] And just in the course of communicating about that, this is kinda how we got to know each other. But, but here’s the thing. So every day I try to close these rings and you get this little check Mark, right? And we always talk about the power of these little habits. So I restored my devices and, and you know, the modern world is amazing cause it used to be, if like you lose your phone, you lose all your photos and all this like terrible stuff.
[00:16:01] The fact is with iCloud, I mean, I restored my devices and pretty soon every sing like everything on them and was just back to the way it was. Which is sort of amazing, like you have to sign into most of your apps again and stuff like that. But, excuse me, but like I didn’t lose photos. I didn’t lose a lot of data.
[00:16:19] But one thing I did lose, well, some of this Apple watch ring activity information, and that drove me crazy because I had this streak going of like over a hundred days and now my phone and watch think that I broke my streak. Even though I didn’t, that’s so frustrating. But I was thinking about this this morning and I was thinking about how on the one hand, what I’m describing is frustrating, and on the other hand, what I’m describing is insane because like.
[00:16:58] I took an eight kilometer walk yesterday. That’s really good. That’s really good. Like that’s great. That’s some great exercise to get. And it was a lovely day and it was a great walk. I walked to a neighborhood that I used to live in a couple of years ago and kind of, you know, saw what was there and what wasn’t there anymore, and I stopped for coffee.
[00:17:17] That sounds great, doesn’t it? And I’m sitting here pissed off because I don’t get credit for it in my iPhone. There is a aphorism that I like. The map is not the territory and it turns out looking into who said that? There’s actually a whole Wikipedia article about it called the map territory relation, which is delightfully nerdy, and I’ll put a link to it in the show email@example.com slash 89.
[00:17:52] The map is not the territory of symbol of reality. It’s not reality. And the thing that occurred to me is the only record of my physical activity that matters is the actual fitness of my actual body and not what the Apple activity app thinks I did.
[00:18:15] There’s this distinction that Sean has made to me before. And you know, like all distinctions between people, you have to take it with a grain of salt. But in general, there seemed to be people who process information in terms of facts and figures and people who process information in terms of emotions and stories.
[00:18:39] And again, like, like everything, those are just tendencies. So it’s not like people who process information emotionally can’t do math. And people who process information with facts and figures are sociopath’s. It’s just a tendency. And in general I’m more of a facts and figures kind of person.
[00:18:57] And. It occurred to me to wonder if it is a, those of us who process information this way are more vulnerable to this sort of thing I’m describing where you confuse the map and the territory. Sometimes people talk about like wearing a mechanical watch, for example, which I and I haven’t worn a normal keeping watch and years and years and years until I got an Apple watch and then had something on my wrist again every day.
[00:19:25] And the funny thing is. I feel kind of locked into wearing the Apple watch because it’s counting, like it’s quantifying me. You know, there’s this idea called the quantified self. You can look up. Uh, and there are some people that sort of exemplify this, um, one of whom is, I think his name’s Steven Wolf from, hopefully I didn’t get that wrong.
[00:19:46] The founder of Wolfram alpha, which is an information company, they have search engines and things. You might’ve heard of them. And it’s sort of fascinating to see these people who like keep track of everything. They type on a keyboard and everything they eat and everything they do every day for years and years and years and years.
[00:20:05] And then they have this log that quantifies everything they’ve done. Yeah. And on the one hand, to me at least, that feels very appealing. But it’s interesting to wonder why after all the map is not the territory. Like. If I threw my Apple watch out the window, what am I afraid of? I guess I’m afraid that I wouldn’t have anything motivating me to go walk, take a walk for half an hour every day, except you know, that’s probably true.
[00:20:35] Somehow people manage to get exercise without a little thing telling them that they should. Obviously the, the kind of habit treadmill device makes it easier. It makes it easier to create that feedback loop, but. I don’t, I don’t really have an answer. I don’t really have a brilliant conclusion to this topic, but I thought it was interesting to ponder, you know, what are some ways that we are spending too much at time and attention and energy on the map instead of on the territory?
[00:21:07] You know, we’re worrying too much about ticking a box and not enough about actually doing whatever the thing is that causes us to tick the box. There is another little. Aphorism that I like quite a bit, which I think comes from Buddhism, but again, don’t quote me on it. It’s that you, you know, you use the boat to cross the river, but then you leave the boat behind like you don’t, you don’t carry a boat around with you, I guess, unless you intend there to be another river.
[00:21:40] It’s not a perfect metaphor, but just this idea of separating. Separating the tool from the thing the tool’s supposed to get you. The tool is not the point, but it can be easy to obsess about tools when what really matters are the outcomes that the tools give you. It’s a couple of good comments in the chat about this.
[00:22:02] Garrett says, Apple health is like Tamagotchi, except we’re the little monster we have to take care of. Yeah. Sort of true. I mean, I will say that it’s a hundred times or maybe a thousand or maybe infinitely better to spend your time and attention and taking care of yourself rather than taking care of a little digital toy that doesn’t exist, doesn’t really exist, but you know, you, you are still kind of turning your life into this weird hamster wheel.
[00:22:33] Tony said, I get this when I play ring fit, adventure. My Fitbit doesn’t record my movement, but I know I did it though. It still counts even when it’s not recorded. My body knows what I did. Yeah, exactly. This is the thing. I mean, I haven’t, I mean, maybe this thing that happened yesterday, it’s kind of forcing my hand, but you know, there’s part of me that just wants to take my watch off and like leave it at home for a whole day just to see if I still get any exercise.
[00:23:00] You know? Just to see. He said sort of sarcastically if I still exist. All right, so that’s a good place to bring in my last topic, kicking and screaming a little bit. I’m going to talk about my novel, so go ahead and shut this off if you’re still listening. Okay. You’re still here, aren’t you? You really are.
[00:23:25] What’s it going to take? What’s it going to take to get me to not share that? Nah, nevermind. It’s fine. It’s fine. This is all fine. I’m mostly being melodramatic right now, honestly, just because I hope it’s entertaining to someone other than me. All right. Novel. So I have a writing coach and I talk to him generally every two weeks, although it had, it had been awhile because they’re just, there have just been things coming up on his side and on my side.
[00:23:53] And, uh, and when things come up, sometimes we go a few extra weeks without talking. So. Generally we talk for an hour and I discuss what I’ve done or what I haven’t done, and then sort of what to do next. And in general, he’s been really helpful at getting me unstuck. And a big part of this is I think the, the benefit of expertise, like this is what coaching is really about.
[00:24:22] I don’t mean for this to turn into a sales pitch for coaching, but. The way I’ve thought about it is you, you’re directly trading money for time because if you tried to do everything yourself from first principles, you’ll probably figure it out eventually, but it will take an arbitrarily long amount of time for you to overcome all of the obstacles you run into.
[00:24:44] If you. You know, go and find free information, then that helps, certainly. But again, you’re going to spend a lot of time filtering through things and figuring out how they apply to your situation. When you buy a course, for example, essentially you’re paying for a little bit more of a concentrated the solution, you know, it’s like a, uh, like a concentrated version of information that’s all compressed into, into one thing.
[00:25:12] Similarly, when you buy a book. When you get coaching, you tend to pay a lot more money. What you’re getting in return for that money is you’re saving a lot of time because having someone who is a, an expert and B is working with you directly means that when you run into problems, you can very quickly identify them and solve them.
[00:25:32] As far as this novel goes, and my writing coach is a guy who has published, like written, edited and published in some form or another 40 bucks and. You know, it’s remarkable that pretty much anytime I run into some tricky problem, I can’t figure out. I say it to him and he just about off the top of his head goes, okay, well here are three things you can try just because he’s seen all of these problems before.
[00:25:57] You know? So this is the value of coaching specifically what we came up with though, because now I’m sitting on 50,000 words, unlike Tony. I didn’t write them all in the month of November, but Hey. It took me, I don’t know, eight months or something like that. And to be honest, I was probably only writing in like four of them.
[00:26:19] So, so based on that, I want it to come up with a deadline for myself. And this was partly motivated by Jordan on the last, uh, fired up Monday is last week when I talked about this. I don’t think Jordan is here, so don’t tell her. Okay. But she, she had asked me if I have a publishing deadline, and I said, I didn’t.
[00:26:38] Now, you know, I took that away and thought, well, I get it. I probably should have some kind of deadlines. So, uh, but I want it to come up with something realistic because you know what you can do with deadlines, just like when you procrastinate, it’s like a way to let yourself off the hook. So I could say, you know what, I’m going to finish this novel by the end of the year, except I’m not going to like.
[00:27:00] A, I, I don’t even really know how much more work it’s going to take to finish, but I can guarantee you it’s more than five or six weeks worth of work, especially in addition to my day job and et cetera. So what we came up with was. Four to six months. And I give the range because as my coach suggested, I think this was wise, you know, plan for four months from now, but expect it to be like, you know, be okay if it’s six.
[00:27:29] So, you know, the goal there is really to avoid this all or nothing mentality that we all fall into so much of the time where it’s like, if I can’t do this thing perfectly, it’s a failure. You know? And then it’s like. If I didn’t accomplish this thing by this arbitrary date I set for myself, I’m never going to do it ever because I quote failed.
[00:27:52] You know, that deadly word failure that we’re all so afraid of as though it’s like, you know, if you just keep working on the thing, eventually it’ll be done. And whether it took a year or 10 years is kind of irrelevant. I mean, I want it to take a lot more like a year than 10 years, but still, you know, I, I said half jokingly.
[00:28:15] Quarter jokingly, maybe an eighth jokingly. What’s it going to take to not have to talk about this anymore? And Alex in the chat said it’s going to take a completed novel with a smiley face next to it. The smiley face doesn’t make it. Okay, Alex, but he’s right, of course. So all right. The other thing about creating a deadline, my coach pointed out is that.
[00:28:40] It lets you break, break your time down. So what he wanted me to do is come up with a deadline and then break it down into weekly goals. Because the idea there is you can plan what you’re going to do in a week. You can’t really plan what you’re going to do. And for four, for six months, like for the next six months, I will do acts.
[00:28:59] It’s just going to be a big, vague ball of stuff. So breaking it down into smaller goals. Is important. There’s a book called the 12 week year that I quite like checking out, but it basically, you know, it has you, it’s a very structured way of doing exactly the same thing and it has, you. Well as the name implies, instead of thinking in terms of what you want to accomplish in a year, which is sort of too big and loose and fuzzy for you to actually get anything done, treat your long range like your longest range of planning as 12 weeks, which is, you know, long enough that you can accomplish a big juicy chunk of something in 12 weeks.
[00:29:44] But it’s short enough that you can break it down into extremely actionable segments. The other thing that I’m trying to do, and this is much more, you know, this is much less general and much more specifically about writing a novel, is I’ve sorta changed who the antagonist of the story is over time.
[00:30:04] So again, I’m going to talk about my novel for another maybe five minutes. If you. Are terribly bored by this. Feel free to have a fired up Monday and tune in next week. I’m going to keep going a little longer. If you want to get into some nerdy things about the story I’m writing, I’m going to take another sip of water first.
[00:30:28] Oh, I really don’t know how Sean talks on a podcast for like two hours. I guess. Practice actually is how is how . All right. Long story short, I’m writing a fantasy novel where there’s an empire and they send an expedition across the ocean to an unexplored land and with the intention of colonizing it and they get shipwrecked and they get washed ashore and they have to survive, and they come into conflict with people who already live there.
[00:30:59] Now, straight off the bat. A problem with that story is that it feels uncomfortably like something that is in all of our history, which is namely the conquest of the indigenous people of the Americas by people from the other side of the world. And I wanted very much to avoid specifically portraying the colonizers as good guys in the indigenous people as bad guys, because well.
[00:31:28] That’s not to get too political. That is a very problematic, a narrative in our society, even through the present day. Okay, so in this fictional world, how am I going to deal with that? So again, this, this was, you know, something I brought up to my coach and, uh, and he had some, he had some useful insights.
[00:31:50] You know, his, his chief chief insight was. What you really need is you need a story problem that requires both groups of people to solve it. Because that way, neither of the neither group is, you know, is that way the indigenous group is not portrayed as less than the colonial group. Instead, there’s something about each of them that’s required to solve the problem of the story.
[00:32:13] Now. Uh, you know, I only came, we only came to this recently because what had happened, I was kind of trying to deal with this problem of having at least some of the indigenous people still be the antagonist. And it was kind of like getting in my way in a subtle way. The whole time I was writing the book, like I had scenes I was writing and I was just never quite happy with how they were turning out.
[00:32:36] And finally I realized like, this is, this is a problem. Uh, I had come up with something, I’d come up with another antagonistic force and was going to sort of tease them at the very end of the book. The nice thing about, and this is something I’ve actually quite enjoyed about the process of writing a novel, is.
[00:32:57] Yeah. Sometimes you know, you, you, you come up with stuff like I, I plan a lot. You know, they’re the people who write books. Talk about the two camps, plotters and pantsers though the latter group is named from the idea of writing by the seat of your pants. So there’s the people who will like outline a book and the people who come up with an idea and just write.
[00:33:19] And of course, you know, probably the vast majority of people fall somewhere in between. Because again, you know, see the previous conversation about anything that divides 7 billion people into like a small number of, of groups of things. Um, I’ve found it very useful to do a lot of planning. My coach happens to be a guy.
[00:33:40] This is why I was drawn to hire him in the first place, is that he sort of follows this idea of doing a lot of planning and outlining ahead of time and it helps, but nonetheless, I still find there are these things that come out of nowhere that I could never have planned. There are these things I could never have planned.
[00:33:58] They just come out of writing and then pondering the problems of. The book in a way, trying to write a novel is this big problem solving task where you’re trying to figure out, you know, in a basic way, you’re trying to figure out what happens and then what happens next? And then what happens next?
[00:34:20] I had come up with the idea for this other antagonistic force and basically it’s another civilization that invades the protagonist or point of view civilization. What occurred to me was I could introduce them as the primary antagonist in this story, instead of saving them for a future story, and now the colonists and the indigenous people are suddenly forced to work together against this actual antagonistic force.
[00:34:49] So coming all the way back around. What I talked about, uh, with my coach in my last call was making sure I understand this new antagonistic force specifically making sure I understand what they want, because what I’m finding out is the key to a good antagonist. A couple of the keys to writing good antagonists, which is the fancy writer word for bad guys, if you’re not aware, is they have to want something the same way that your protagonist or the hero of your story.
[00:35:22] Or heroin nuts not to imply gender. The protagonist of your story has to want something. They have to want it really badly and they have to struggle to get it. Otherwise, you don’t really have much of a story. And your antagonist is an antagonist because they also want something just as bad as your protagonist does.
[00:35:44] But those two wants are in direct conflict with each other. This, this again, is what makes it. Uh, is what makes a story powerful is when you have two people that want not just that they want different things. It’s that for one of them to get what they want. The other one has to not get what they want.
[00:36:02] It’s a zero sum game, or at least it has to start out appearing to be a zero sum game because that drives the tension. So the antagonist has to have a powerful, compelling goal. They can’t just be, you know. People with swords that are angry at your hero, just to give them something to knock down with their own sword that isn’t interesting.
[00:36:26] The other thing that I’ve noted about antagonists, and I think this is important to writing characters that actually resonate with people, is an observation about reality, which is that for the most part, and we can of course split hairs about it, nobody sees themselves as a bad guy. You know? And, and this is true in stories like it’s true in the real word world.
[00:36:50] Everybody sees themselves as the protagonist of their own story. So a way to think about that is that like, you know, you’re telling the story about your hero Alice, who was opposed by Bob, the bad guy. But like from Bob’s perspective, it’s a story about Bob being opposed by Alice. I think that’s important to keep in mind.
[00:37:13] If you want to write like a realistic bad guy, they, you know, in general, unless you’re writing kind of a so-called person against nature story, the bad guy can’t really be like an elemental evil force of just evil evilness who’s evil because evil that’s not really like, that creates a cardboard cutout instead of an actual interesting villain.
[00:37:35] You know? Everybody’s got their reasons. All right, that’s probably enough. So for the next two weeks, I’m going to be working on coming up with a deadline, breaking it down into weekly goals, understanding my antagonist, and coming up with the scenes that I have to add to my draft to introduce them to the story.
[00:37:58] So happy to talk about this more in the community, but it’s about time to wind up this podcast. So thank you very much for listening, especially if you put up with me all the way to the end while I talk about my book. Have a fired up Monday. I’ll talk to you next week.