How to resist resistance

In his book ‘Turning Pro’, Steven Pressfield discusses the issue of resistance. In his eyes, resistance is whatever stops you from using your talents like a professional. It keeps you in the amateur stakes by preventing you from achieving your goals.

I used to suffer from several variations of resistance. The first was I never really planned anything. That seemed like taking things too seriously; after all I was just messing around and scribbling some stuff down – I couldn’t really write a book. Then of course I finished the first book and realised I could have done it much more easily if I’d worked like a pro and actually decided what I was going to write and how the story would work before I started. Instead I rushed headlong into it and consequently kept getting blocked and frustrated. It took me to the end of the long drawn out process of writing Book Two to realise this. What annoys me now is the amount of time I wasted by not being more professional about it.

Now I write plans of almost everything I write. But resistance morphed into another form. Instead I began to struggle to find the time to write. Not the motivation to write – I kidded myself that I had that – no, what I lacked was the time and space to do my writing. But what was really happening was that I was effectively waiting for something that would never come – a time when all the factors would line up and I wouldn’t be tired, hungry, thirsty or in a cramped space – and I’d be able to do some real creative work. I’d become so overwhelmed by the magnitude of writing an 80,000 word novel that I was blocking myself. I’ve now started breaking my word counts into manageable weekly totals because there’s nothing better for the ego than hitting your target every week. I also make sure I turn up for every session I set myself, no excuses allowed!

But as ever, resistance shape-shifted into another form and became the little voice in my head that says ‘Why would anyone want to read this drivel you’re writing? It’s never going to be good enough!’ My method for dealing with this one is simple – I’m just going to ignore it. At present I have very little feedback on my work but the few people who have read it enjoyed it and gave some constructive criticism. No one so far has shrieked ‘Oh my word, never write anything else again, it’s appalling!’

So all I can do is keep going, fight that resistance and remember that I am a professional. Or at least that’s what I will be. For now, I’m a somewhat-talented amateur looking to break into the ranks and if that’s where I want to be, I have to act like it.

Where do you find your resistance? What methods do you use to challenge and deal with it?

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5 thoughts on “How to resist resistance

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  1. Thank you for sharing your struggles and insights into your writing process, L.M. I also have to plan out my books. For every story I write I create pages worth of plot, because it helps me to stay on track.

    One thing I’ve learned is that a writer can write anywhere! You don’t need your own office (though one would be nice). All you need is a computer on a crappy desk in the corner of a small apartment, or a notebook and a pen that can be taken anywhere from couch to bus to bed!

    Good luck with your writing!!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Chrys. Planning is definitely the key, I find it prevents you tying yourself up in knots! Being able to write anywhere is sometimes the only way to get it done. Good luck with your writing too.

  2. I can be distracted easily. By almost anything happening outside in the summer because … well, it’s summer. Over the years, I’ve learned to write in my head, not with words, but images. That way once I’m back at the keyboard, I hit replay, then write what I see. Strangely, it works. I get the lawn mowed, the weeds picked out of the garden, and some writing time in.

    Happy to meet you, LM. I’m guest hosting from IWSG.

    1. Lovely to meet you too! That sounds like a really interesting way of retaining the information. I’m very impressed. I have an appalling memory so I have to write things down straight away. Summer does provide distractions – writing is definitely easier when it’s wet and cold outdoors.

  3. I’m still struggling with the second resistance there – I do have this rather OCD need for everything to be just so before I can start writing (although that has been disproved again and again, I still believe it).
    Lovely meeting you over on Rebecca Bradley’s feature on first drafts and finding your own blog. Good luck with both of your novels!

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