Dangerous Opportunities

A familiar story:  Chinese word for “crisis” is made up of two picture characters — the first one means “danger” and the second means “opportunity.” A little-known tale: Consider for a moment, how these two words came into play in the writing of The Scarlet Letter, one of the great classics of American literature.

When Nathaniel Hawthorne lost his job in the custom house where he labored long hours, he returned home in despair. His wife listened to his tale of woe and all his worries, then set a pen and paper on the table in front of him, lit a cozy fire in the fireplace, put her arms around his shoulders to comfort and encourage him, and uttered these words, “Now you will be able to write your novel.” Hawthorne seized the moment and The Scarlet Letter was born.

So often, when we hit a obstacle as Nathaniel did, whether it’s a bump in the road or a roadblock, we look for the worst that can happen instead of extracting the best from it. We see the cloud and forget about the silver lining.

It’s happened to all of us:  We hit a snag in a story and instead of letting it stoke us to come up with a solution, we let it stump us and put it aside. We feel discouraged because a character we’ve created seems two dimensional; instead of pumping life into it, we feel deflated ourselves and suddenly, our work comes to a halt. We receive yet another rejection from an agent or editor and instead of getting energized by the opportunity to push our work to the next level — to make it so irresistibly exciting and readable that no one will be able to pass on it again — we let the turn down dispirit us.

How do we shift from danger doomsayers to opportunity discoverers? How do we push through the cloud and find that silver lining? Mostly it’s an issue of attitude: As my great friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert says on his wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690), when we run into a roadblock, we have two choices: We can get frustrated or fascinated.

If we get frustrated, it’s game over — we get into a negative spiral and a “woe is me” pity party. If we get fascinated — if we get energized and pumped by a problem instead of deflated by it, then anything and everything is possible. Our upbeat attitude helps us generate fresh ideas and see new solutions.

Some time this week, we’re all likely to hit a roadblock. And when we do, we’ll face a simple choice: getting frustrated or fascinated. Let’s choose fascination and write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dangerous Opportunities

  1. thanks so much Karin. I love this. It also reminds me of Liz Gilberts talk about turning FEAR into CURIOSITY. Frustration into fascination seems to be a similar vibe. It does help me in my writing to stay close to curiosity and fascination. Thank you.


  2. HI Michelle,

    Thanks so much for your note and for your comment about
    turning fear into curiosity — I love that! I’m so glad this post
    has inspired you and hope you share it. I’ve used Rob’s
    frustration into fascination” mantra many times — and it’s
    really helped me keep moving forward.

    Write on,

  3. Ethel says:

    Great phrase to start my day. “Fascinated instead of frustrated” Thanks, Karin

  4. Hi Ethel,

    Yes, it’s a great mantra for overcoming obstacles!

    Write on,

Leave a Reply