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.