Let’s say you are writing well, working every day, and then you hit a snag and stop. Struggle as you will, you can’t get yourself started again. How can you fix that? First you must understand your own thinking. Most people think using Single Loop Learning. They begin with assumptions, develop their Goals, values, and Techniques (their action strategy), and then get Results (consequences). They review their results and go back to their Goals, etc. Often, that approach does not lead them to get unstuck, or further down the road. They stay stuck, or are able to get some things done after a time, but get stuck again.
Double Loop Learning is quite different from Single Loop. Here, instead of going back to Goals, etc. you check your own beliefs about yourself and what you are doing to question your Underlying Assumptions. If you are successful in getting past your own Defensive Reasoning, and really doubt your Underlying Assumptions, then you can re-check your Goals, etc. and get different results. If you are successful in re-evaluating our Underlying Assumptions, you can at the same time question your theory of action, the stated reason you have for undertaking something.
It is not unusual for us to have a public, Espoused Reason, we are doing something, but a different Theory in Use, what we actually do. We are able to deceive ourselves into believing they are the same, when more often than not, they are different.
For example, Rodney wants to be a Christian writer to show his love and affection for humanity. His writing reflects his disdain for others with his patronizing attitude. He talks down to others. He has not been successful in publishing anything but pretends to fellow writers he is on the verge of a ‘big breakthrough.’
If his fellow writers talk to him about the voice he is using in his writing and point out readers may feel like he is talking down to them, he gets angry and defensive.
It’s easy to see that Rodney is going to get no where if he continues like he is. He must get past his defensiveness to look at his underlying assumptions to be successful in writing.
For a diagram see the following website:
Another way of looking at this is to understand that most people have a negative evaluation process they have learned that leads nowhere. It usually goes like this. They write something and their internal critique starts picking their writing apart. This leads them to punish themselves, telling themselves things like, “Why do I even try. I’ll never be a good writer.” Or “I should have studied harder in school; I just can’t remember the rules of writing.” Then they worry about their writing and can’t get out of a worry loop. Even if they succeed in stopping themselves from worrying, they go back to being over critical and start the loop again. This process leads to nowhere. It wastes your time.
An alternative to this negative process is a more positive one that goes like this: As you work, you evaluate what you’ve done. This leads you to consider options you have identified for making your writing better. Then you develop a plan taking the best of your options and using them. Now, you loop back to evaluating what you are doing. This process leads to making your writing better over time.
Once you understand these processes, you can find where you are within the processes. Once you’ve identified yourself, you can stop yourself and switch to a more active process. So, if you find yourself being stuck, you can use one of these processes to get unstuck and make your writing better.