by Kristi Holl
I was sick twice during the pandemic, we lost two family members, plus I had a month-long severe reaction to my second Covid shot. When I resurfaced, practically comatose, I was behind on one book deadline and a book proposal (set in 1850s England.) None of my decades-old “get started” techniques worked, which induced a near panic.
But one day I heard a podcast. (Details are included at the end.) Did you know that we have 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day? Roughly 95% of the thoughts are repetitive and unconscious. Only 5% of our daily thoughts are conscious and new. The negative ones, both conscious and unconscious, keep us stuck.
“Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” the Bible urges. To do that, we need to first notice the conscious negative thoughts that keep us stuck. (“I’m too old.” “There’s not enough time.” “I’m too tired to even start.”) Then grab a pencil and paper and ask yourself (and God) the following questions.
Five Magical Questions
- If I feel overloaded, what would it take for this task to be easy? What would have to change for this situation to be simplified? I asked this when I felt overwhelmed, whether I needed to outline my cozy mystery or put
away Christmas decorations. Sometimes the answer was to cut the goal into tiny pieces to make it easy. Or I deleted the task, or delegated it, or postponed it because it wasn’t critical. Sometimes I simply rearranged my schedule to eliminate overload.
- What is an improvement I’m willing to make? The smaller, the better, if you want to get moving quickly. Maybe I can’t write for an hour, but I’m willing to write ten minutes. I can’t walk three miles today, but I’m willing to walk around the block. I don’t want to stick to my diet today, but I’m willing to cut this candy bar in half. Small steps lead to larger ones.
- What perspective would I need in order to feel different? I use this question when I want to change my fearful, doubtful, or pessimistic mood. My change in perspective often includes a particular Bible verse that speaks to my need. Then I can look at my situation from God’s point of view instead of my own limited one.
- In this particular situation, where do I need to be a little more patient, and where do I need to push a little harder?Pray, ask God the question, and listen. You’ll know if you need to rest more and be patient with healing, or if you actually are loafing and need to push yourself a bit.
- What is the difference between a true solution and a distraction? When I’m tired or discouraged, what actually renews my energy, a nap or a pint of ice cream? When I’m behind on a deadline and fighting panic, is watching a British movie a solution, or is it a distraction? The real self-care task isn’t always the most appealing choice. But it will be a true solution.
Questions for Every Season of Your Life
These powerful questions turned out to be so helpful that I taped the list in several places: beside my computer, in my daily planner, and in my prayer journal. They help me every day—not just in my writing, but in my food choices, exercise, home care, and when my grandkids are here.
Questions are a great way to use the 5% of our thoughts we have control over! Bring God into the process. Then the answers you receive will fit your personality, goals, and season in life.
(Taken in part from “Ten Questions that Change Everything” by Primal Potential podcaster, Elizabeth Benton)If your writing has stalled, use powerful questions to get unstuck! @KristiHoll #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Kristi Holl has fifty-six traditionally published books with both Christian and mainstream publishers: forty-six juvenile books, two books for writers, and eight novels for adults. A new adult mystery is due out at Christmas. One of her historical mysteries, A Dangerous Tide, features Jane Austen and is housed in Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, England.