Friday, June 20, 2014


Hi, Linda Rodriguez here. You know, the author of the Skeet Bannion mystery series, including the most recent, Every Hidden Fear? (My agent has ordered me to put in an obligatory pitch on everything for a week.) Now, let's talk about writing.

You’ve started your story or novel, and you have a few good pages that you’re pleased with. You have to go out of town (or do something else) for a few days, but you know where you’re going with your writing project, and you can’t wait until you get back to the story you’re working on. When you do return, you set up time to write and do everything you can to be prepared and in perfect shape to work. The morning/afternoon/evening to get started again happens and bang! You run smack into some invisible force that refuses to let you write those pages that you want and need to write.

This is resistance, and it’s the common companion of the writer. It’s the enemy, an internal saboteur, fifth column located inside your head. You may find yourself checking email or Facebook or Twitter, going online to do some research that suddenly seems imperative and falling down the Google rabbit hole. You might find yourself organizing your desk or your files or doing a load or three of laundry. You may find yourself cleaning out closets or suddenly running errands that you’ve been putting off for days or weeks, which have suddenly become imperative. Anything, anything at all, but write what you’ve set yourself to write.

As someone who writes for a living, I’ve a long, close acquaintanceship with my own resistance. Often, I believe I have it under control. Then, it shows up in some new form to devil me. Often, it can be quite persuasive. It is true that any project, especially a big one, will be easier to accomplish in an organized space. It’s true that some research needs to be done before you put words to paper. And often clearing the decks before you work can leave your mind readier to sink into your created world. It whispers perfectly plausible excuses to me that will end up keeping me from writing or from writing as much or as well as I want and intend to write.

One of the ways I’ve found to subdue my resistance is to always have another ongoing project. This takes advantage of one of resistance’s own techniques to throw it against itself as judo and other martial arts do.   This does not mean, “Start another book.” All those million new book ideas that that resistance sends trying to seduce you from your project should just be written down in an idea notebook or document and promptly forgotten until the book is over and it’s time to look for new concepts. No, I’m talking about another project that you’ve decided ahead of time you want to work on in addition to the main project rather than instead of the main project.

I offer myself the reward of working on this secondary story when I’ve met my goal on the main project. If it’s a very bad day and resistance is winning, I might allow myself to work on the other project first for a limited time to get my writing muscles moving. I set a timer, though, and when it rings, I must move onto the main book. Often, I may be doing something that’s more fun on the secondary project, such as research or exploratory planning and note making.  This makes it an ideal reward.

The nice thing about using a secondary project in this way is that, often by the time I’ve finished my main project, my secondary project is well underway and becomes my new main project while I set up a new secondary project to help me deflect the power resistance wields over me. Stephen King once said, “A change is as good as a rest,” and I think he was right. Also, this technique weakens the power of resistance by making it believe that I am giving way to it, at least somewhat. Yet, it keeps me productive.

What do you do when you encounter resistance? Have you found successful ways to defeat it?

I'm going to have to be gone all day for some medical tests, but I will respond to all comments when I get back.

REPLIES TO COMMENTS (because Blogger):

Yes, Marilyn, plodding is what we all must ultimately do. I thank my stars for my difficult childhood that taught me I can always take one more step, deal with one more difficulty, than I think I can.

Debra, this is why I don't play games. I can get obsessive about things. If I'm going to do that, it had best be about work.

Kay, social media is a real problem for me. I'm fairly extensively involved and have gained a number of my fans that way, but it means I have to stay involved and not just disappear. But social media can become a rabbit hole of time suck for me if I don't watch myself fiercely.

Lynn, I think that's one of the toughest things--to write the first part of a book and then have to set it aside to write or finish something else and then try to come back into it and bring it to life again. It works, of course, but oh, it feels like you're pulling your guts out inch by inch through your mouth.

Yes, Mary, a change works well for me, but I simply can't always do it because of deadlines, etc. Then it can be sheer hell for a while.


  1. You certainly told it like it is for many of us. As for overcoming, I just plod away.

  2. Marilyn and Linda, I envy you for setting schedules and plodding. Lately, I've fallen into I must win a game of solitaire, spider solitaire and freecell before I move on to anything with a purpose.

  3. And I must keep up my social media so peeps don't forget about me between books! That's my excuse and I'm kinda sticking to it...though feeling guilty too.

  4. I get easily led astray... squirrel... now where was I? I'm starting a new book this month after writing the first three chapters earlier this year as a proposal and I'm having a horrible time getting settled. I plan on doing the second story as reward, just as soon as I hit a weekly goal. And it won't be this week.

  5. It sounds like a useful tactic, a change of direction can get the gears working again.
    I think Stephen King stole that “A change is as good as a rest” from my grandma, who did always have multiple household projects going. ;-)