Sunday, July 8, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: Overcoming My Resistance

What do you do when you want to write but resistance fights you tooth and nail?

Any break we take from our regular writing routine can make it difficult to find the rhythm we once had—the longer the break the harder the recovery. This is the biggest problem I’ve faced since my recuperation from playing catch with my personal crash and burn comet.

I mentioned last month (Insecure Writers) that I have two different attitudes toward writing.  I’m very focused and disciplined when it comes to my professional writing. Even being sick I managed to get my blog up every week and on time. Granted it might not have been as stellar as pre-comet but it was done. The funny thing is? I never considered pulling back or letting the blog go fallow.

I wasn’t writing much fiction at all and what I did write, sucked, in my opinion. Part of that is how fiction and storytelling is different from non-fiction. For me, that is. I can’t speak for other writers. I paint scenes and emotion with words. There is an ebb and flow to it. You know when your creative gates are open. You also know when persistence will open the gates to your creative well. When you can’t find the words or the words you do find, in misty fog of your personal creative pool, aren’t working and aren’t connecting, it’s frustrating. For me it was like trying to play a musical piece I knew by heart and had played many times, and forgetting whole sections or fumbling over well known notes—like I had never played it before. No matter how hard I tried it wouldn’t come out smooth. I walked away. It was easier than facing my dissatisfaction with my performance.

It had gotten to the point that anytime I would consider the work of writing there was resistance to the whole idea. That became a pattern. One I didn’t like because I need to write. I need to get the words out. Whether they change the world or merely finish the damn story, I don’t care. It’s something inside of me that needs to be expressed. If it isn’t expressed it dims my joy in life. I’m a creative person and while I can find other things to occupy my creative spirit, it isn’t as satisfying because it’s a substitute for what I really want to do. 

My reality, at the height of my illness, was I couldn’t write. I couldn’t connect. But I also knew it was temporary. So, I appeased my inner writer by saying when I’m better and able to think clearly again, I’ll resume writing fiction. And that, ladies and gents, became a piece of fiction in itself.


Because as my mind cleared and I was again able to draw the words and emotions from my creative well I still found resistance to writing. Say what? Yeah. The pattern of quitting when I got frustrated or it became hard was pretty much entrenched. Yikes.

The writer that tells you that the words always flow and the stories are easy is either lying or living in an alternate universe. We all hit spots that required discipline and yes, work. Even when we get the essence of the scene down, the editing of the word choices, the phrasing and descriptions, and the action and emotion, is work. Hard work. You strive for painting the scene as clearly as you can and giving it the most impact. That may take several revisions. Revisions and editing are not easy. Or at least they aren’t in my world.

When faced with things that go wrong in my life I’m an analyzer. I have to find the problem and then ways to fix it. In my experience, there is a gap between identifying the root of a problem and adjusting that root so the problem grows a solution. Even when I see the solution I still must make the adjustments and that takes, groan, persistent effort and a strong desire to change. We don’t change unless we want to. No one can do it for us. We have to be self-motivating. We have to want it badly enough to modify our actions and create or recreate the correct pattern.

The question became: how do I get my creative mind to stay on and not shut off at the first sign of trouble? 

I now know the root cause of my inability to stick to my creative writing.


My attitude changed towards my creative writing. I was treating it as if it was an option instead of a job I enjoyed. Let me backtrack here a bit and say that while some of my writing has been a mood thing—poetry, experiments in other genres—my main storytelling work has always had a strict routine. I did it everyday. I had a set time to do it. I worked until that time was up. So while it was for pleasure there was a very proscribed routine attached. I looked at my routine, and excuse me while I laugh my ass off at using that word. Ahem. I made another discovery. I didn’t have a routine anymore. I also didn’t have the stamina to write in as long a session as I did before. I lost my energy and endurance.

I’m happy to report I am writing again and I’m rebuilding my routine. I’m feeling good at what I’ve accomplished. I’m not where I was two years ago. But I’m taking the correct steps. It’s coming.

I’ll share a bit more about that on Wednesday.