Surprise! Objections are your friends

In a “get unstuck” session I had recently with the multi-talented Jamie Lee Scott, screenwriter and author of Let Us Prey, about a TV sitcom pilot she’s been working on, she mentioned that she kept bumping into the thought: “In the real world, that wouldn’t happen.”

In response, I helped her devise a way she could USE that objection. I had her make a list of how things work in the “real world” and then brainstorm what could happen instead in “sitcom world.” It was freeing for her to USE her doubts and concerns rather than trying to find her way around them.

Turns out, those objections were darned useful.

Get out of your own way

I think your biggest job is to get out of your own way so you can do what you were put here to do, whether it’s writing, painting, healing, speaking, coaching, creating, or some other beautiful way that you’re sharing yourself in the world.

A big part of the way I help you do that work is helping you address your fears, doubts, unsupportive questions, and inner critic’s rants — to reframe those messages and beliefs into more supportive thinking so you can carry on fulfilling your life’s calling.

It’s also worth knowing WHEN to listen to those voices of doubt and HOW to use them.

Wisdom from Walt

Walt Disney used three separate work spaces to develop his projects: One each for the dreamer, the realist, and the critic. The critic wasn’t allowed to speak in the other rooms.

A wonderful neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique based on Walt’s wisdom is to walk your project through each stage of development, first taking it to the dreamer, then to the realist (the planner) and finally to the critic. When you reach the critic’s room, the critic is only allowed to ask constructive questions.

The dreamer decides

And the critic is not allowed to answer the questions.

That’s the dreamer’s job.

The realist gets to help too, once it’s her turn again.

This or something better

This is when it’s useful to listen to those inner voices of doubt — when you’re ready, willing, and able to use them and turn them into something better.

On Monday I talked to my screenwriting mentor, Chris, about my latest project. I told him, “It’s good but not great. It’s slow, the world-building isn’t there yet. It’s not a contest winner.” I wasn’t being negative, though it may sound like it. I was in an objective state, standing outside my work and looking at it. By brainstorming together, I got kick-started down a path that I’m even more excited about. Tons of new ideas have been cascading as a result.

The reason? The DREAMER solved the problem — brainstorming is dreaming — coming up with new ideas, looking at things from new perspectives, and being willing to shift in new directions as needed.

Put it into practice

With any creative project, there will always be doubt. Hesitation. A chance to turn back, to do it differently.

What if you took those hesitations — those objections — and used them to make your work even better?

Your turn

Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.



Coming Attractions

~> THIS THURSDAY: June 7th. Last day to register for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle. For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing.


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth through ScreenwritingU.

~> Fall. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU event to meet with producers and agents.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Reading Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix now. Still have to get my hands on (500) Days of Summer — Zara said so.






  1. Jenna,
    Thank you for your insightful post. I really appreciate hearing about compartmentalizing that inner critic. Mine takes the form of my dad. It will verbally harass me inside my head until I learn to shut it off. I have learned how to visualize a shield around that critic. I never thought of letting it have its say. I’ve managed to edit 17 pages this week. Thankfully. I also wanted to tell you that I have a business idea similar to Just Do the Writing and I’ve finally grown a spine long enough to tell you about it in a forum so public as this one. However, I can hardly afford most of your services because I’m on SSI, don’t have a part-time job let alone a full-time job, am also dealing with high stress family situations. I occasionally do my work out of the shared workspace called The Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, CA when I feel I can handle being around other people. My business idea needs to get off the ground along with my holistic creativity coaching business. Ironically I also need a coach. This is is all I can tell you here but you can feel free to email me since I leave an address behind when I post. Thank you—

    • Congratulations! Good for you for speaking up — I’m thrilled you have a neat new business idea that you’re growing — that’s wonderfully exciting. And it sounds like you’re making great strides with your writing too. Great job. And thanks for your comment. There really are times it’s worth paying attention to that critic’s voice, but it does have to be in the right time.

  2. Hi Jenna!

    I love this post, of course. Objections arise often when we want to talk ourselves out of something. It’s too, “fill-in-the-blank.”

    Like you, I see them as friends. I’ve learned to hug them, yet I see a lot of folks falling prey to them.

    We educate people to be obstacle-obedient. All those graduation speeches about going out there and getting what you want wouldn’t need to be said if kids were being education to go out there and get what they want.

    I wish you could fly out here and attend my first photography show I’ve messily organized.

    I got the idea and then went with it and it has attracted some very cool photographers willing to jump with me. A few said “no” because I couldn’t guarantee a BIG audience was coming . I said, it’s the first one I have no stats.

    Hey, take a risk …

    Thanks! G.

    • I love how you are always willing to leap into what you love and feel inspired by, G. You are such a great role model for all of us!

  3. p.s. can i send you the logo I designed for my new creativity adventure?

  4. Sherrill Leverich-Fries says:

    I love the part about Walt Disney using three different creative spaces, and the NLP tactic to only allow the critic to ask constructive questions in its room. I see this akin to allowing the Board of Directors have their say, AND using the critic’s voice to come from a place of strength, rather than attacking weakness. Thank you for the great food for thought, Jenna!

    • Isn’t that so amazing, Sherrill? I love knowing what a genius he was. Yes, the Board of Directors is another neat way to look at it. Thanks so much for commenting!

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