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  • Writer's pictureTina Radcliffe

Overcoming Goldilocks Syndrome

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

This post is part of my Writer Rehab Series. Today I'm discussing what is commonly known as "Goldilocks Syndrome." *

To understand this insidious disease we'll share examples and known treatment modalities. Everyone is at risk. Learn the symptoms and be prepared. It could happen to you.

1. One of the least discussed symptoms of Goldilocks Syndrome is known simply as "I have to clean my office before I write."

Sure, it starts out innocuously. The office could really be a mess. Everything in the house migrates there. The living room, kitchen and dining room are immaculate, but your office? Besides, having a disaster office actually makes it look like you are productive.

But you're not.

You start out most days determined to clean your office before you start writing, because you "can't write in the clutter!"

But you never actually get around to writing. Or if you do it's certainly not what you planned when you wrote- 1. Clean office. 2. Write. -on your To-do-list.

How to kick this unproductive habit?

Yes, do clean your office. Once per project. And while you're at it move the desk so it faces away from the clutter. Out the window is ideal.

Change your To-do-list to this, 1. Write. 2. Clean office. If you meet your writing goals you get to clean your office again.

2. Another tell-tale sign of Goldilocks Syndrome is being over-run with Bears. Bears that stand between you and your writing. Sure this sounds pretty benign, but beneath the surface is the malignant truth.

You let the Bears take over because deep down inside you think:

  • The Bears are right. I'm not really a writer

  • I'm taking away from the Bears in my life when I spend my time writing

  • The cubs should come first (and they're so cute and I love them this much.)

  • If I'm nice and make porridge and brush their fur they'll let me write.

Goldi. You are a writer. The hard truth is that you have to take a stand and create boundaries in your life.

Here are some typical interactions between Goldi and the Bears in her life demonstrating how you can turn it around and be in control of your Bears.

Bear: "We're out of porridge."

Goldi: "No, there's some some in the cupboard. Did you see the 'Do Not Disturb Sign on my door?"

Bear: "Yes. But I needed that porridge." (escalating cranky tone and Bear growl)

Goldi: "I understand. But this is my sacred writing time. I'll be free at one p.m." (PERIOD)


Bear: "Can you watch my cubs for me on Thursday?"

Goldi: "I'm sorry, that's my writing time."

Bear: "But you don't have a job. I really need a sitter."

Goldi: " Writing is my job. I'm sorry I can't help you."


Bear: "We need a volunteer for the annual Honey Run."

Goldi: (Insert smile.)

Bear: "It won't take up much of your time."

Goldi: "I never make commitments without looking at my calendar. You can call me next week if you'd like to discuss it."

If you need to, prepare a script on index cards so you're ready for the Bears. Value your writing time and never, ever commit to anything on the spot. "I'll have to think about it," is always an appropriate answer.

3. The final and most sinister symptom of Goldilocks Syndrome is the "not too cold, not too hot, I want it just right!" symptom. The disease may have progressed to advanced stages at this point and the only way to stop it is to show you.

Prepare to write. Buns in chair. Hands on Keyboard. (BICHOK). Set your timer for five minutes. (I will now simulate a five minute writing spree without editing.)

"I said my life was falling apart, " Mother. You aren't even listening."

"I am listening, Izzy."

"Mother, I told you I hate being called Izzy.""

"Since when?"

"Since months ago. Hello? I swear, you never listen."

"I do listen, Isabel..Izzy, but I have a ninethirty appointment appointment and this is the second time this week your lfie has fallen apart." Anna switched the cell phone to her other ear as she searched for car keys.

"So much for maternal support." Izzy mumbled.

"Do you want to come over later?"

"No, I'm busy."

"I couild stop by yourplace after myappointment. "

"I'm getting my nails done."

Anna tripped over the cat and hit a coffee table with her shin. The stack of books on the table tumbled liek a dominoes onto the floor.

"What on earlth was that, Mother?"

"Nothing Isabel, nothing." Ann rubbed her leg. I have to run. Bye. Love you.

Arriving at the office complex with only five mintues to go, Anna racd to the lobby el

End of Five Minutes

Compare that to this example. (WARNING: GRAPHIC) This is what will happen if you have advanced GS.

Once again-prepare to write. Buns in chair. Hands on Keyboard. (BICHOK). Set your timer for five minutes. (I will again simulate writing for five minutes, but this time I will edit as I go.)

"I said my life is falling apart. You aren't even listening, Mother."

"I am lsite listening , Izzy--"

"Mother, I told you I hate being called Izzy."

"Since when?" Anna reached for her earrings.

"Since months ago. I se swear you never listen."

"I do listen Anna released "I do listen, Isabel, but I have a ninethirthy nine-thirty appointment doctor's appointment and this is the second time this week your life has fallen apart." Anna

End of five minutes. Productivity just took a nose dive thanks to "not too cold, not too hot, I want it just right!"

Tragic isn't it?

Here's a treatment plan that can work for you.

1. *Join 1K1Hr (This is a Facebook Accountability Group where you..Write 1K an Hour!!)

2. Start out gradually, increasing your hours daily. Minimum dose -one hour a day, one thousand words.

3. Then edit for one hour.

4. In 30 days you could have 30 thousand words.


Don't let Goldilocks Syndrome ruin your life. Seek help now from a trained professional. Remember, together we can beat this!

*Any resemblance to Bears or Goldilocks living or dead is merely coincidence.


* 1K1HR is a closed group. Message me and I will pass that info along.


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