My fellow muses, I have a problem.
It’s called resistance.
There, Robyn, I said it. Are you happy? (Robyn is over there in the corner vehemently nodding her head.)
More than ever, my resistance is ruling my writing life. Some of it is, admittedly, related to external issues—lots of work, lots of study, lots and lots of excuses. Even now, I’m late with my blog post. You know why? . . . Okay, I forgot it was my day, but that’s besides the point . . .
They say to write what you know. Half of the time, I feel that I don’t know anything about anything, and so I feel hardly qualified to post here. But resistance and I are old friends.
You know that feeling of impending doom you get when you sit down to write, and all you do is watch the blinking cursor for a good five minutes before heading to your email, or Facebook, or somewhere that is not a blank page?
You know when you start thinking about writing and talking about writing and wanting to write but not actually writing?
You know that feeling you get when writing begins to feel a lot like trying to drain the last drop of blood from your body, and you suddenly would rather just jump into the coffin, close the lid, and never again see the light of day if it means not having to write?
Resistance comes in many shapes and sizes, none of them the fun and cuddly kind. I can joke about it a bit, because I can occasionally finish a poem or something. Once a year. But let’s be honest.
Resistance is lethal to your writing life.
Why do we resist writing?
We’re perfectionists. The greatest of resistors, in my experience, are also plagued with perfectionism. And what does perfectionism lead to? Fear, of a sort. The fear of choosing the wrong, crappy words. The fear that if it isn’t perfect, our work will never succeed. That we will never succeed.
It’s a vicious cycle.
We’re also stubborn. We don’t have anything to prove by not writing, and yet, we still refuse to do it. Why? Because resisting is easier. We routinely get away with it without repercussions, allowing ourselves to have our own way and avoid the hard stuff (the actual wordy part). No one wants to write on command. We’ve gotten so good at ignoring our own drive to write—self-motivation fails, mental pep-talks are no good—that it’s even easier to resist the friendly prodding of our fellow writing group and evil coaches (ahem, Robyn, ahem).
(I’m kidding. Robyn is the best coach. She hasn’t killed me yet.)
Lack of control. The second we put words on the page, they become real. Sure, you can delete them, but it doesn’t undo having written them in the first place. What happens if we finish that novel we’ve been working on for ten years? Then what? Perhaps it’s the unfamiliar that frightens us into being servants of saying “no” to our writing careers.
Resisting is something we’ve accomplished well. It’s hard to trade that in for the unknown.
Why do we get away with resistance?
To be honest, we’re good at making excuses. And I don’t just mean the “I don’t have time” excuse (although that one is part of my arsenal).
Excuses to avoid writing aren’t always so clear-cut.
Here are a few I know that I’ve used:
1. I can’t work on a daily schedule/word count because I don’t like schedules. (I really don’t, but if writing was so important to me, I’d work harder at actually doing it.)
2. I can’t write because my peak creative hours are at night, but my schedule doesn’t allow for me to write at that time anymore.
3. I don’t like the environment I’m in for reason x, y, z.
4. I’ll start tomorrow. (Don’t start tomorrow . . . it’ll never happen. Trust me. Start today!)
5 I can’t just write for five minutes at a time in between class or when I’ve got a free minute at work or on my lunch break.
6. I’m too tired.
This list is not exhaustive. It’s just the beginning of a downward spiral into a too-many-excuses hell.
What’s the antidote?
Well, I’m still trying to solve this issue myself. The advice everyone gives me is just . . . write. Sit down and start typing typing typing. Robyn even told me she didn’t care if I wrote ten pages of “I don’t know what to write” over and over, so long as I was writing something. (I resisted doing even that.)
Mostly, though, I think the key is to resist resisting. Basically, overcome our resistance to writing with an even strong resistance to resisting it in the first place.
Beat resistance with more resistance. We all like irony . . .
We can do that, right?
How do you resist resisting? Is resistance a problem in your life? Have any secrets you can share with the rest of us?