Confessions of a Frustrated Writer

I have a love/hate relationship with writing. 

Sometimes I find it stimulating. I start most days with coffee and Quora. I open Quora, and intuitively pick a question to respond to where I think I have something to add to the conversation. Just as I write for the Life as an Art Form community, I tend to respond to questions related to embracing happiness or overcoming life’s trials. Writing on Quora is effortless – I’m in a flow state while I’m writing and editing.

And then other times writing seems like a chore. Dreaming up topics for emails to the LAAF community and this blog usually comes later in the day – after I’ve exercised and meditated. I have far less juice about writing. Rather than flow, it frequently feels like a heavy responsibility.

Maybe you already know that I’m a fascinated and curious student of both the science and psychology of happiness. When I’m walking daily for about an hour, I’m usually listening to a podcast or audiobook on the subject – stopping periodically to make a note of some profound new concept. Which leads me to my next point.

Wisdom = Knowledge + Personal Experience.

I gain a lot of knowledge about happiness from these audio resources, and books I read of the same genre.

But I prefer writing from life wisdom rather than mere knowledge that I haven’t yet put to work in the science laboratory of my life. Writing from knowledge feels to me like advice (take my advice, I’m not using it!). Writing from the wisdom of personal experience feels far more honest.

This post is a (super) vulnerable first attempt to put something to work that I learned today. You’re kinda watching over my shoulder during my initial exploration of this technique.

Why am I doing this? Because I am gonna do it anyway, and my hope is that you’ll learn something from observing this lab rat trying to find his way out of the maze.

What’s the concept?

When we’re faced with adversity, we tend to go into monkey-mind mode – we think a lot about the problem, which often leads to self-limiting beliefs. Those beliefs have consequences – on our state of mind, self-esteem, self-confidence and so on.

One way of overcoming adversity is to actively dispute our self-effacing thoughts and beliefs, using four techniques: evidence, alternatives, implications, and usefulness. The concept suggests that successfully disputing harmful beliefs energizes us toward action to overcome the adversity.

Helpful clue: In the preceding two paragraphs I highlighted the ABCDE words that might help make this technique memorable for everyday use.

Here I go!

Adversity: I’m hitting a wall when it comes to writing LAAF emails, blog, and filling out the LAAF website and backend tech infrastructure. I procrastinate for hours or days between spurts of activity.


  • I don’t like writing as a responsibility.
  • I prefer writing to be more of a flow state, as I experience with Quora.
  • I procrastinate near-daily, preferring reading, idly surfing the web, or watching Netflix to writing as a responsibility.
  • My productivity is extremely limited by instant gratification and distraction. I can’t stay focused for more than maybe 15 minutes at a time without getting distracted – completely different from writing on Quora.
  • I want everything to be perfect – I don’t want a shoddy, half-finished website, nor grammatically-challenged writings.
  • Writing is time-consuming. It’s not unusual for me to spend 2 hours to write an article – here, or on Quora.


  • I’m irresponsible and lazy.
  • I’m stressed because I’ve procrastinated so much that people have fallen out of my email campaign. Now I have to research how to get them back in there – once I write some more emails.
  • My procrastination makes LAAF less interactive and valuable for both myself and the community.
  • If I can’t find some way to transcend this procrastination I’ll eventually give up. I’ll let people down who I really want to help. I will have failed – once more.
  • I’m skating on my life’s purpose.
  • Instead of being proud of my accomplishments, I’m feeling guilty about not getting important things done.

Ouch. This shit is painful – bringing to the surface what’s been boiling inside me. 


  • Evidence:
    • There’s no denying I’ve been procrastinating, nor the negative consequences on my state of mind.
    • People in the LAAF community probably haven’t noticed the effects.
    • I’m not lazy and irresponsible by nature. Lazy and irresponsible people don’t spend 2-4 hours daily with multiple daily self-care practices.
  • Alternatives:
    • One thing that make writing emails so frustrating is the archaic email composition capability of my CRM software. I’ve started composing here on WordPress – which suits me much better, and kills two birds with one stone.
    • I could try starting the day writing here rather than Quora, and see if the flow state of early morning might carry over to writing here. Then link to my blog articles on Quora.
    • I could ask a friend to be an accountability partner for spending x hours per day on LAAF-related stuff.
    • I could set aside a certain time slot for LAAF stuff each day, along with a predefined break time for other things.
    • One reason I procrastinate is that I’m overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Perhaps creating and adhering to a prioritized to-do list with small, achievable goals would reduce the overwhelm and procrastination, and increase my productivity.
    • I could be less of a perfectionist and spend less time reading, re-reading, and editing my articles. That might cut article authoring time in half.
    • I could set one or two days a week where I swear off surfing the web on my phone, or reading news – big sources of distraction.
  • Implications:
    • Thinking that I’m lazy and irresponsible just fuels the procrastination. I let myself off the hook because “That’s just the way I roll“. That will show up in other areas of my life, too – if I don’t purge those thoughts. (Maybe it already does?)
    • The same is true of the idea that I’ll eventually give up or fail if I don’t transcend this state of paralysis I’m currently in. Those thoughts lead me in the wrong direction.
  • Usefulness:
    • None of the sentiments expressed under Consequences above have any positive usefulness. They are all de-motivators that depress my self-esteem.
    • I came up with some really useful ideas in the Alternatives.


  • I am gonna create a prioritized to-do list as soon as I finish this article – including the topics for the next 3 articles I’ll write.
  • Tomorrow morning I will write here instead of on Quora to see if I achieve that flow state here. If I do, I’ll try it for the next week and perhaps adopt it as my regular routine.
  • Next time I speak with my friend John I’ll ask him to be my accountability partner for spending minimally 2 hours per day on LAAF stuff, at least 4 days per week.
  • Once I’ve tried some of these things I’ll update this blog post with the outcome.
  • I feel energized to take action – and become proud of my accomplishments instead of ashamed by my lack of same.

Whew! That was gut-wrenching.

Don’t let the fact that you read this in 5 minutes create the impression that this is an easy process. It’s not.

The reflection alone to do this probably took me an hour. The fact that I was writing while reflecting (and re-reading, and editing) was easily another hour. Were I to do this “offline” it would have gone faster – but it still would have been hmmmm….. shall we say, painfully revealing?

But here’s the positive outcome: I feel far more resourced now to change up my resistance to writing and building out the LAAF website and tech infrastructure. I know what I’m going to do – starting as soon as I hit Publish on this post. Tomorrow morning. And in the coming days. I see possibilities now that were hidden from me earlier because I was frozen in fear and guilt.

Despite the process being difficult, it feels like a very useful exercise. In fact, there’s another issue in my life that I’m gonna use it on. I won’t get proficient at this new technique by just doing it once.

Was it useful to read this “real-life” example of how this process works, and the initial outcome? (Still TBD is seeing if it gets me over my wall of resistance).

Can you see how it might work in your life, to get you unstuck from some nagging adversity?

Will you try it? I hope so. Knowledge without experience is like a deadbeat tenant, occupying space in your mind and not paying any rent. You’ve heard the expression “Use it or lose it?

Here are a few ideas for you to reflect on, and possibly apply this ABCDE process to solving:

  • If you’re a salesperson resistant to making cold calls.
  • If you’re in a relationship where there are some “issues” standing in the way of deeper love and intimacy.
  • If you’re in a work situation where you’ve stagnated.
  • If you’re struggling with how to maintain friendships with people of a different political persuasion.
  • If you’re procrastinating about doing anything you want to do.

One final thought

This audiobook suggested that another way of becoming good with this process is with a trusted friend – where your friend speaks your beliefs and conclusions, and you argue vigorously in the opposite. That makes sense! If you’re vocalizing your dispute/debate, the whole benefit of the process might just sink in more deeply.

If you want to try that out with a trusted friend, just reach out to me. I’d be happy and honored to support you.

Carpe diem!

~ Bobby

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