Resistance is Futile

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I had great difficulty rousing myself to write this blog post as we are down at my sister’s beach house on the amazing Great Ocean Road and so I am definitely in holiday mode! This is the Australian summer and we are taking our last opportunity to enjoy surf and sun before the school year starts next week. Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about resistance lately – those pesky barriers that seem to get in the way of actually writing. Call it procrastination. Call it fear. Whatever it is, it’s resistance. The brick wall that prevents you from getting the job of writing done.

For me resistance takes the form of a little voice inside that makes me doubt my own abilities. It goads me into avoiding the difficult task of facing an empty page and quite often, it works. To overcome this I remind myself that writing is my profession and, no matter how daunting the task sometimes seems, I just need to roll up my sleeves and get down to it. I succeed in overcoming ‘resistance’ in this way..well, most of the time…

I am just coming down off the high of finishing my WIP and so a new project beckons and with it the dreaded empty page…and so the little voice starts and I have to draw upon all my will power to combat the ‘resistance’. It’s kind of like the anti-force!

At least for the next few days I can be in holiday mode but then the real work starts. So what kind of resistance do you face when writing? Is it a little voice that undermines your confidence or an external force that tries to divert you from the writing course?

How do you overcome resistance? 

12 thoughts on “Resistance is Futile

  1. Good luck on that new book, Clare. As far as distractions and the like, the internet is mine. A real time bandit. How do I resist? I turn off the wi-fi.

  2. Enjoy the rest of your vacation Clare.
    My resistence moment comes not at the beginning of a project–for me, that is the shiny, new, exciting part–but during the editing/redrafting stage. Each time I think about picking up my work to review it, to see what I need to fix, change, rewrite, I’m gripped by two fear factors: one, it is so horrible I can’t face it, and two, I will have no idea how to fix it.
    Luckily, I’ve learned to just face my fear, grab the work and get started. Seldom is my work as bad as I’ve feared and most often the fixes come to me pretty easily once I delve into it.
    Good luck with your new project.
    David DeLee
    A Cold Wind – a Grace deHaviland novella

  3. Oh yeah…that little voice at the beginning of the project is the worst (and again when it comes back periodically throughout the manuscript).

    The voice is predictably threatening. “You can’t weave together a complex plot like that! You don’t have the ability!” or “You know you won’t finish it so why bother?” or “You don’t know enough about [subject matter x] so forget it!”

    Needless to say, perfectionism is my constant adversary. I can always overcome the external things (the distraction of email, internet, etc). But the internal battles are the worst.

    I don’t know when that particular war will end, but I keep fighting.

  4. “Anti-force.” I like that. 😀

    It’s just a sit down, start writing. If I write five hundred words, something clicks and I can write to two thousand easy. Sitting down and starting writing always appears much harder than it is, though, and that appearance of it being hard is all that holds you back.

  5. How Australians can get their feet wet with every known predator and the most venomous creatures thriving in those waters is beyond me. Big box jellyfish, tiny Iriconji, sharks, water Zombies, blue ringed octopus, sting rays, stone fish, blow fish, and many more. I do like the view though.

    Don’t you hate that I keep bringing up deadly things in Australia…

  6. The start of any book is hardest for me, to get it where I think it feels right. But I’ve learned that the little voice that stops me is my writer’s instinct, telling me that something isn’t right. I’ve learned to be sensitive to it & trust my misgivings. That little voice has helped me a lot, even though it pulls me away from writing for a bit with its version of doubt. Eventually my brain works out the problem & I find a resolution that makes the book better. This can occur anywhere in the book & sometimes more than once but it doesn’t last long. My puzzle-loving brain & a little sleep usually do the trick.

    A vacation like you’re doing, Clare, would be an awesome fix. Like Joe said, my demon time drain is the Internet.

  7. When I don’t have a deadline, I tend to wallow in the swamplands of doubt, inertia, and resistance (mostly inertia). What has gotten me through in the past is to focus on baby steps, and a daily quota of one page a day. My mantra is, “A page a day, that’s all we ask.” As long as I write one page every day, I’m making progress.

    Right now I don’t have a deadline, so I’ve self-imposed one. I’ve gotten letters from readers wondering why another Fat City Mystery hasn’t come out (the publisher didn’t extend the series.) I wrote back to my readers saying that a new one will be out in the summer of 2012. Their enthusiasm has gotten me excited about producing another book. Now I have a deadline, and I’m actually enjoying my old sense of stress about making it!

  8. Deadlines do help don’t they Kathryn and like you I self impose them. I’m reading the War of Art and realizing how much resistance prevents you from achieving your dreams so I am fighting it back! John, I know about your obsession with dangerous Australian creatures but believe me down here the beaches are the most dangerous – we arrived to witness a dramatic helicopter rscue of 6 people from a nearby beach and one young mother died. So I am vigilant with my own brood I can tell you…snakes and spiders I can deal with, rip tides are another thing entirely.

  9. BK, perfectionism is what often holds us back when deep down we know we just have to write, even if the first draft is drivel. I try to accept this but sometimes that nagging voice of fear stops me in my tracks.Katherine, I thinking sitting down and starting is two thirds of the battle. Like you once I start it flows easily but it’s the actual sitting down part than can be hard! Joe, I have to really start looking at the Internet time drain…as it is easily my procrastination of choice! Jordan, I also find just some time away from a problem can help. The beach is a nice relaxing way to do this though I have to be on high alert when my kids are in the water.

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