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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Out-trashing the Saboteur: Guest Post by John George Drozdal


Dr-John-at-Fringe-2010_21

Dr. John George Drozdal, aka the Wizard of Droz

One of the reasons I appreciate working with John Drozdal is his sense of humor, especially when we talk about the Saboteur (see chapter 8 in AWB). 

Like all of us, John got shoved around by his Saboteur for a long time without knowing what was happening. But once he found out what was going on, John refused to be bullied again. His method for outsmarting the Saboteur with trash-talk is worth studying. So I asked John if he’d share a typical conversation with his Saboteur.

John’s working on a novel We Don’t Rent Rooms to Princeton Men. Until that is published, you can find more of his humor and insights at his blog WizardOfDroz.com.

By John George Drozdal

I took my first class with Rosanne at The Loft Literary Center in 2009 and she has been my writing coach ever since. In January 2013, I made the formal transition from running my own Human Resource Development firm where I taught people how to work and play well with others to that of a full-time writer, activist, sporadic street photographer, and blogger.

One of the most helpful contributions Rosanne has made to my creative work is to introduce the concept of the ever-dreaded, omnipresent, master of disaster: the Saboteur.

As I told Rosanne when she was writing Around the Writer’s Block, my Saboteur had sold me every excuse to avoid writing: “It’s too late in the day; it’s too early in the morning; I’m too tired; I need to clean, do the dishes, shower, make the fourth pot of coffee, check baseball scores, call my therapist, and run a marathon before I am ready to write.”

What I learned was that it was my Saboteur being …well, my Saboteur. At Rosanne’s suggestion, I gave my Saboteur a name to make it easier to identify him and recognize his lies. My Saboteur is Sergei.

If you remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, you know Rocky’s arch nemesis was Boris Badenough who incessantly tried to “Give squirrel bad time.” Sergei is Boris’s twin brother. His sole motivation is to plant the seeds of self-doubt to crush any hope I may have of being a successful writer.

To do that, Sergei does what every Saboteur does: he lies. I have many conversations with Sergei because he never goes away, never stops trying to convince me to invest in his fabrications. See if you can spot the lies in this typical conversation with Sergei.

Sergei: Hey, dumbass. I see you are trying to write. It is futile. You have no talent. It’s too late in the day to be trying this foolishness.

John: Ah, Sergei, hello. Last time your ploy was to tell me it was too early in the day to write and that I should rather be making an appointment with my therapist. I’m not buying what you’re selling today. [sound of fingers on keyboard] How’s that idiot twin brother of yours? Still trying to give squirrel bad time? He’s in re-runs, right?

Sergei: Everyone wants to talk about Boris – the famous one. We are not here to talk about Boris. And actually I’m much more annoying than he is and better looking. I’m here to give you a bad time because your brain is overrated. How you are able to even dress yourself is beyond me. Don’t you need a trip to the grocery store now?

John:  Sergei, if you haven’t noticed I’m busy… [sound of fingers on keyboard pauses momentarily]

Sergei: No you’re not. You are just sitting there staring at a blank screen on your MacBook because you have no talent. You think just because you won that essay contest in 8th grade about the history of Haddon Heights, NJ, you should get the Pulitzer. Dreck.

John (calmly): You judgmental piece of pond scum. There were years when I’d actually let you get inside my head. [sound of fingers on keyboard resumes] I know you’ll never go away. I know you go for the jugular. So I’ve decided to humor you because you are a pathetic weeny. Those who can, write; those who can’t, are pathetic saboteurs trying to torment those who can write. But I’ve put up with you long enough for now. Buzz off. Bye, Sergei. And tell that brother of yours he smells like dirty socks.

Sergei: I don’t hear you. You can’t get rid of me that easy. Remember Mercury is retrograde until July 1. Very bad time for communications.

John: That’s a good one, Sergei. But your pea brain probably forgot that Mercury goes retrograde three times a year. Mercury retrograde doesn’t mean a writer can’t write; it just means it’s a good time for re-viewing, re-searching, re-flecting, and re-writing. Which is what I am doing now. So thank you very much. Quit being a schmuck and buzz off.

That’s the way most conversations with Sergei go. When I need reinforcements, my ally Rosanne assists me in dismissing him.

back off Sergei

Rosanne telling Sergei “Back off!”

What’s your Saboteur’s name and what lies does s/he try to sell you?

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