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Posts Tagged ‘Resistance’

  1. How to Get Back in the Writing Saddle When Life Bucks You Off the Horse

    June 28, 2015 by Diane

    hand opening red curtain on white.

    There may come a day when someone pulls aside the writer’s curtain and sees a desk and a chair, and they’re both empty.

    Where’s the writer?


    Gone even from herself. Or himself.

    It happens sometimes.


    You’ve pushed a baby into the world and that screaming miracle of flesh requires every ounce of attention. Your lover stops loving and tells you on a Saturday morning in a cheap diner over weak coffee, both hands cupping yours on the table, that he’s found someone else. Or the opposite: that commitment phobe you’ve dated for seven years pivots to you at a rock concert and shouts over the music, “Let’s make it legal.” Maybe a big rig hits your parked car and you have five days to purchase something to drive before the insurance company stops footing the bill for the rental, and you spend every available hour searching for a vehicle you can afford on your meager salary.

    Something knocks you back on your heels and you stop writing.

    That’s okay. Your energy is required elsewhere temporarily. The key word being “temporarily.”

    But when “not writing” becomes a habit, it becomes a problem. You start to dry up inside, a little more every day. Without the juices of your creativity flowing, you crack. There’s an itch inside that you can’t scratch and it drives you to look elsewhere for relief: in other people, or the bottle, or the refrigerator, or reality television.

    And then one afternoon you realize that folding the laundry seems more important than getting back in that saddle. You barely make out the flick of the horse’s tail as it flees over the distant hills.

    Whatever your art: writing, painting, dancing the rhumba, singing arias, designing clay pots, decorating a house, baking cupcakes—whatever it is, you’ve got to get back to it. You’ve got to find a way to get your foot back into that stirrup. A minute here. Five minutes. You’ve swung your leg over. Fifteen minutes. You’re starting to trot. Thirty. You can breathe again. Forty-five and you’re hitting a gallop. The words are flowing. Maybe the ride is rough, but it feels glorious. You’re back in the saddle, behind the curtain.

    Here are eight tips to help you get there:

    1 Go to the library, or a bookstore. Let your fingers trace the spines of a row of books. Feel the tingle. Pick one up. Luxuriate in the heft. Open it. Smell the pages. Read the first few paragraphs. Allow the words to settle into your heart.

    2. Online, or in person, seek out other writers. Give advice. This will get your juices bubbling again.

    3. You might need to call that runaway horse back first. I write about courting the muse here.

    4. Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself: what’s the priority? (Hint: it’s not social media, or checking your emails.) Your soul knows. Check in.

    5. Not enough time to write? Well, you could track everything you do for a day, jotting on a piece of paper the starting and ending times for each activity. You might be surprised at how many precious minutes you spend unconscious at the computer, or in front of the television, or engaged in chores. Or you could skip that exercise altogether and pull out a timer and set it for fifteen minutes and sit down and write.

    6. Take baby steps. Squeeze in five minutes of freewriting on the subway. Ten minutes journaling before bedtime. Fifteen minutes jotting ideas for a novel while you wait for the potatoes to boil for dinner. Let that writerly self claim those pockets of time.

    7. Promise yourself a reward after finishing a project. “I’ll do the laundry, after I write 300 words.” Can laundry be a reward? If you’re a responsible person who feels obligated to accomplish such tasks…yes. Or if you’ve been in resistance for a very long time.

    8. Set your alarm for fifteen or thirty minutes earlier, and do your writing the minute you roll out of bed. Okay, you can go to the bathroom first. Maybe brush your teeth. But then park that fuzzy-headed bronco back in the saddle and take up the reins.

    I want to hear from you! What’s helped you get back into the writing groove when life has knocked you out?

  2. How Resistance Can Help Your Writing

    April 5, 2015 by Diane

    hand opening red curtain on white.

    I was on deadline to write a book review for a newsletter; a newsletter emailed to customers of the bookstore where I work. I usually choose the books to review; something that attracts my interest and will hopefully attract the interest of our readers.

    But I was uninspired by our current selection of new arrivals. So, on the offhand suggestion of my manager, I picked up a book on sacred plant initiations. Now, I didn’t have to write a review for this particular book, but we had a plant theme going on in the newsletter, so it seemed like a good idea.

    Until I started reading the book.

    And the more I read, the more resistant I became to writing this particular review.

    The initiation process, which included ingesting plant elixirs as a means to communicate with plants and raise one’s consciousness, seemed convoluted to me. I didn’t give a hang about what experiences other people had when drinking these potions. And the whole idea of ingesting plants seemed downright risky. This book just wasn’t cutting it for me. I was not inspired.

    But I persisted in spite of my resistance. Spending far too much time at the task, I tried typing sentences that sounded interesting; but the pitiful few I managed to eek out sounded stilted and formal. I was ready to trash the entire document and start over with a different book when I decided to just let my resistance have its head.

    I let it voice its thoughts.

    Ingesting plants? That sounds like a recipe for entering some kind of altered mental state. I’d rather meditate on a plant than imbibe it. Besides, what if I ate something poisonous? And who cares about the conscious states these plant-dieters reached?

    The more I wrote, the more energy I had for writing. And when I read what poured forth, it occurred to me…hey, I could actually use some of this stuff. I could share my doubts about the whole plant initiation ceremony, the whole ingesting thing, and point out how lucky we are to have an author who has 30-plus years practicing the art of herbal medicine, how knowledgeable this particular medicine-woman is, so anyone wanting to partake of plant-dieting could rest assured they would not be poisoned.

    And the funny thing is, once I released the resistance, I saw the book in a whole new light. I was able to see how fascinating this subject could be.

    So I shaped it into a review and sent it off.

    Takeaways this week:

    Resistance has an energy, a perspective, that just might open up the creative blocks. The next time it rears up, let go of the reins. Let it take the bit and run. You never know where you’ll end up.

    Sometimes resistance is merely a messenger. It’s telling you to back away, get some distance, and come back with a clearer head. Don’t kill the messenger.

  3. How to Get That Writing Job Done

    September 28, 2014 by Diane

    hand opening red curtain on white.

    I have a job to do. My first bonafide copywriting job, for an organization who is paying me to write a feature article. I have one week to get it done. Technically, this has nothing to do with rewriting my novel, but it does have something to do with writing, and since you, curious reader, are peeking behind the curtain to see how a writer writes, I thought I’d demonstrate.

    I power up my laptop, line up my chair in front of the desk, and then head for the refrigerator.

    I want to see what’s edible in there. Plan ahead for what to make for lunch.

    I notice a miniature head of lettuce that I need to take to the compost bin. And that smell, what is it? Old apples? Funky. I need to root around in there and see what’s emitting foul odors. And I need to defrost the refrigerator. Yes…I still have a fridge that needs defrosting. I’ve never owned a fridge that defrosts itself. I would like to own a self-defrosting fridge. It’s on my to-do list: things to buy when I have the money and a home of my own. But for now, the fridge gets defrosted the old-fashioned way: with a hair dryer.

    All of this refrigerator-searching is not the way to get the bonafide writing job done. I know that.

    This is how to avoid getting it done.

    This is resistance.

    Or fear.

    Or maybe excitement.

    I want to prolong the actual moment of sitting down to write because from the vantage point of the refrigerator, the bonafide writing job still looks like fun. When I actually sit down and face the blank page it will stop looking like fun and look more like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

    This is the demon talking.

    Here’s the remedy to shut him up. Quick! Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Pull up a blank Word document. Start writing.

    Get your face out of the fridge.

    Do not trot the lettuce out to the compost bin.

    Do not haul out the hair dryer.

    Save all of those chores for that time of day when the creative juices have dried up. Somewhere around three o’clock, when the napping instinct kicks in. You can duke it out then between the one-who-wants-to-nap and the one-who-wants-to-do-household-tasks.

    For now, the one-who-has-a-writing-job needs to sit her butt in the chair like a professional and get to work.

    Which is what I do.

    I set the timer, sit down, open a blank document, and write this blog post. Which is another way of avoiding the bonafide writing job.

    But it teaches me something. Actually, two somethings.

    One: setting a timer forces me to focus on getting the words on the page. It’s a deadline. I don’t have the luxury of meandering around the sentences, losing all track of time and all attempts at good posture. With only fifteen minutes, I need to get to the point.

    Two: setting a timer forces me to write fast. I can shoot past the inner critic. If there’s time left before the dinger dings, I can go back and tweak it. Then let it go. Save it.


    I’ll apply those steps to the writing job.

    Right after I’ve analyzed why I have the urge to stuff food in my mouth whenever it’s time to put words on a page.

    Takeaways this week:

    If you haven’t already done so, buy yourself a self-defrosting refrigerator. And a self-vacuuming vacuum. And a self-washing washing machine. Wait…that’s called hired help. The point is, let someone or something else do the work; like your non-writing subpersonality, after writing hours.

    Deadlines are great motivators to get thy butt into the writing chair. But it’s good to leave a buffer of time so you’re not attempting to create quality work at the last minute. So…start early, for a specified period of time. One hour for research, or jotting notes, or drafting copy. Go.

    Are you more creative in the morning? After lunch? In the evening? Decide which works best for you and schedule your most important writing time during that slot.

    Set a timer, write a lousy first draft quickly, save it, take a break, and then look at it fresh.

    Remind yourself: I can do this. I have the chops. I’m a writer! A little pep talk goes a long way.