How did your stakeout go? If you’re wondering, “What stakeout?” Head over to part I to catch up.

Now that we’ve observed when and how our gremlins come at us, we’re ready to arm ourselves with the tools to lock them up.

Perfect timing, too. Looks like the Captain’s about to hand us our next assignment. Let’s join the briefing.

Listen up. Did you file your gremlin report? If not, get out of here and spend a few days observing his operation.

Some of you may be wondering about the status of Detective Baxter. He got lucky.

That bonehead ignored the stand down and observe directive. And his gremlin convinced him to torch his novel moments after typing, “the end.” His screen couldn’t be saved, but a forensics team was able to recover the files.

Let this be a lesson to you all. Don’t grapple or negotiate with these guys.

Baxter’s been sent back into the field to observe.

As for the rest of you, you’re ready to take down this guy’s operation.

Approach with caution. By now, he knows you’re on to him.

Then again, maybe you’ll get lucky and your very presence will deter him. Play your badge number in the lottery if that happens.

When the time’s right move in and use any means necessary to lock ’em up. Vent. Reframe. Journal. And don’t hesitate to call for backup.

Got that? Okay, get out of here and catch this guy.

Holy cow! The Captain does not sugar coat. Does he? Tough love or no love. That’s how he runs this precinct.

Let’s see if I can take the edge off our latest assignment.

This part of our operation has two phases:

  1. Choose.
  2. Play with options.

Phase 2: Choose and own your choice. No grappling. No negotiating

When your gremlin shows up you have a choice, give into his chatter, or don’t. And own your choice, especially if you give in.

That’s key. When you own the choice to give in, you remove feelings of guilt, anxiety, or analysis paralysis. This relaxed state frees your mind to play with the options I’ll cover in phase 3.


Let’s say you find yourself tweaking the first paragraph of your crappy first draft over and over. And you recognize your gremlin’s attempt to kill your session with perfectionism.

You have a choice – keep tweaking or play with options. And own it.

If you consciously choose to keep tweaking and own it, you’re more likely to move on before it’s perfect.

Easy-peasy, right? Until…

The day you sleep through a chunk of your morning writing session. Or have to field curve balls from your kids, boss AND temperamental car. Or just don’t have the energy to face the part of your draft that’s not working.

Your gremlin turns cartwheels on these days. He attacks with messages like, “I don’t have time to write today.” Or “I have to deal with this, so writing’s out.” Or “I’ll organize my pantry, then try to write.”

Again, you have a choice. Dodge these messages and play with options. Or let him take out your session with them. And own it.

When you own your decision, you relax and set yourself up to play with options after you handle the crisis. Just don’t negotiate with this guy. He’ll lead you right to tomorrowism.

In part I shared that my gremlin, 10-Tunner, shows up when my alarm goes off. I’ve put a plan in place that helps me focus on Write 50 projects from 7 to 9 each morning. This works until…

I snooze through my alarm because I hung out with my pal Insomnia until 4 or 5 in the morning. On those days 10-Tunner ignites messages like “I don’t have time for Write 50 today.” Or “I’m too tired. I’ll double my writing time tomorrow.”

I can choose to let him hijack my remaining writing time or play with options and salvage what’s left. And own it.

If I give in and don’t own it, I’m too stressed to see ways to squeeze in time for Write 50 later that day.

Make sense?

It’s time to move on to…

Phase 3: Play with options

Let’s fill your arsenal with techniques to help you lock up your gremlin so you can focus on writing.

1) Vent. Can’t face your writing day or project? Do you struggle to stop yourself from editing the first paragraph of a crappy first draft?

Use a notebook, text document or voice recorder as a punching bag. It can take it. Hit it with what’s holding you back. Your fear. Your reluctance. The worst that can happen if you write today.

Need backup? Call someone you trust and spill your guts. Choose someone who will listen without interrupting you with advice. Then ask, “what do you think?” That voice of reason can defuse the bomb your gremlin planted in your head. This works. I know because…

Like many writers, I spend waaayy too much time in my own head. And as I mentioned in part I, 10-Tunner often plants bombs loaded with “I have no talent” chatter.

If I let the attack go on too long, he convinces me that I can’t string together two coherent sentences.

That’s when I call on my accountability partner, Laurel, for backup. She lets me step out on the ledge and spew my drama. Then she talks me down and we diffuse 10-Tunner’s bombs. Everything feels doable after our chats.

2) Reframe and return to your project. If your gremlin fires off a “no one will read this” message, return fire with “I won’t know unless I share it.”

If he comes at you with “I can’t move on until I’ve written the opening paragraph” dodge it with “I’ll write another part and come back later.”

When I sleep through my alarm, my gremlin hits me with “I don’t have time for Write 50, today.” I often fire back, “I’ll find the time.” That frees my mind to work out how.

3) Visualize. You can diminish the threat your gremlin poses by sketching, naming or describing him.Your gremlin, also known as negative self-talk and Resistance

Pop over to for inspiration.

My 10-tunner lost power when I named him. And lost even more power when I stumbled across his likeness online. That’s his mugshot on the right.

4) Plan. Now that you recognize when, where and how your gremlin commits crimes against your writing, put a plan in place for when he shows up.

Some writers keep a timer handy to reel in time spent over-editing a section of their first draft.

Since my gremlin shows up when my alarm goes off, I end each day by jotting down a specific plan for the next day’s session. That and my morning coffee ritual fuel my resolve to handle 10-tunner.

5) Commit to this 7-day challenge. I create games to help me conquer the writing challenges that hold me back. And I publish the ones that work.

If you’re up for some special ops training, I triple-dog dare you to check out Clear The Chatter: The Silence Your Inner Critic 7-Day Challenge.

Guess what?

We made it through the setup for phase 2 and 3 of our operation – choose and play with options.

I leave you with 2 final thoughts.

1. Remember, observation is key. The more you consciously observe when, where and how your gremlin comes at you, the easier it will get to deter or lock him up.

2. Your gremlin is a slick escape artist. He will show up again. Which means gremlin wrangling is an ongoing practice.

In the words of the captain, “Get out of here and go get him.”

Block-ditching Resources:

More on gremlin taming.

playbook and game that challenges you to self-coach yourself through your writing blocks.

Write 50’s  Clear The Chatter: The Silence Your Inner Critic 7-Day challenge.

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