The status quo is a dangerous and easy thing to become accustomed to. It allows for complacency and laziness; an over familiarity with the status quo achieves nothing more than personal and creative stagnation. You may look at what is happening in your life and wonder, “Where is my progress?”, “Where is my momentum?”
I know I have.
It may be lacking because of an subconcious acceptance of the status quo.
I’ve been begrudgingly learning this lesson over the past few weeks, with unwanted frustration growing during my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Recently I’ve been stuck in a rut, with people able to shut down or counter my game based on my, now, relative predictability. What I used to do worked every time. Not so much anymore.
So what happened? What’s happened within the given status quo, and could it actually be a good thing?
What can my BJJ training teach me about this new personal obstruction, and how, exactly, does it tie into my writing? What life lesson is there to glean from this?
My theory is that, yes, the fact I am currently getting my game countered, squashed and decimated by my teammates is, actually, a good thing. And here’s why: it’s forcing me, with a very harsh lesson, to stop accepting my preconceived status quo.
The main trigger? A new member to the mats. Like with Street Fighter, a new challenger has appeared.
This guy, another blue belt who has begun training with us most Fridays, is very broad, very heavy, and very technically sound with his Jiu Jitsu. He uses his weight well and has a good understanding of body mechanics. He loves to squash guard players (which I’ve been playing ALOT recently this past month and a half, due to my foot’s gout/bunion issue triggering) and is very skilled at taking the back for some primo back control – usually leading into a rear naked choke or bow and arrow submission.
He has joined the ranks of the other giants that attend our class, and I’ve found myself struggling against him. For every attack he has a defence, for every offence he attempts, I work hard to maintain a positive defence.
His appearance in class has disrupted the hereto status quo – one that was commonly accepted by those who have attended on a regular basis. I am no longer the highest ranking guy with barely adequate technical skills (despite the singular stripe that adorns my now year old blue belt); I have been supplanted by a slightly bigger guy with better skills than my own, who is capable of controlling and squashing my game, leading to very frustrating rolls.
And that’s great!
The status quo has been disrupted, and it’s forcing me to reassess my game. As I mentioned earlier, right now I’m in a BJJ rut. Nothing I do works, and I’ve become stale. I don’t know what to do to get through this plateau (one that every long time BJJ practitioner goes through, incidentally), but having a new variable such as this guy and his obvious abilities is a great place to start!
Is it frustrating? Yes. Can I figure him out? No. Is my Jiu Jitsu good enough right now? Hell no. Can I do something about it? Hell yes!
And like with so many life lessons I’ve learnt on the mats, this is one that can be translated into life on a broader scale, including writing.
The status quo I’ve experienced with my writing recently has looked like this:
Rewrite Temporary; send redrafted manuscripts to beta readers; wait [insert amount of days/week/months] for feedback; repeat.
It’s getting to a point now where I feel that there’s only so much more I can do in order to tweak it. There are no more major story elements that need narrative reshuffling or eliminating. I’m hoping, hopefully not naively, that it’s finally heading to a natural tipping point. With one more major redraft, scheduled after I receive feedback from a few other beta readers, it may finally be in a position to send off with a hope and a prayer to literary agents. It’s scary just thinking about it, and that’s a fear that I’ve allowed to grip me into a state of paralysis on plenty of occasions.
This tipping point would be the end of the Temporary status quo, and it’s something I can’t wait to disrupt.
It’s terrifying and uncertain, but so is most of life, I guess. So is rolling against a new blue belt who loves pressure passing and crushing your (pathetic) guard game. But you do it test yourself; you do it to better yourself and learn from the experience.
Don’t grow complacent, and never accept the status quo. That thing can kill your creativity, motivation and, without a doubt, any momentum you’ve been able to maintain, believe me.