Overcoming Resistance on Your Writing Journey

I bought the book, The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield for a young artist/musician and seeker. I skimmed it and thought the references to war and battle would be attractive to a male. And he loved it. He even read parts of it to me that he thought I’d like. And I did, so I bought a copy for myself and read the entire book in one sitting. I’ve read a number of books about writing motivation, so some of it was familiar, but every time I read something like this, or re-read, it reaches a new place in me that needed to hear it. There were many such places in this book.

The book is written in three sections: Part One, Defining the Enemy; Book Two, Turning Pro; and Book Three, The Higher Realm. Here are a few gems on resistance:

“Resistance is most powerful at the finish line.” It’s true. Right now, I have a finished draft of my mystery, Focused on Murder, and have sent it out to exactly one agent. This section turned a light on my resistance. I fooled myself into thinking there weren’t enough hours in the day to research agents and send out queries and synopses when I wanted to take on the 50,000 words in one month NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve done great with that and have a first draft of a brand new novel, but my finished novel sits.

Resistance and Procrastination. “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves I’m never going to write my symphony. Instead, we say, I’m going to write my symphony, I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Resistance and Unhappiness. “As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private, insurrection within our skulls.”

Resistance and Healing. “Remember, the part of us that we imagine needs healing is not the part we create from; that part is far deeper and stronger.” The part we create from can’t be touched by anything our parents did, or society did. That part is unsullied, uncorrupted; soundproof, waterproof, and bulletproof. In fact, the more troubles we’ve got, the better and richer that part becomes. The part that needs healing is our personal life. Personal life has nothing to do with work. Besides, what better way of healing than to find our center of self-sovereignty? Isn’t that the whole point of healing?”

I hope you, too, find something in these words that helps you in your writing journey.

Change of Seasons

This morning I did a reverse spring cleaning, washing and airing out all my bedding. Fall hasn’t arrived yet in California but it’s right around the corner. I thought my purpose in stripping the bed and washing comforters was to prepare for a new season, until I was struck by the symbolism of it all.

I’ve nearly finished my final draft of Focused on Murder and am gearing up for the next step  by mentally clearing away the past season of writing and editing  to make space for a new effort: Publishing my book.

Frightful

Publishing a book is one more step in a long list of scary transitions that must take place to get a book from conception to making its way into the world.

It used to be easier: Do your research.  Find agents who handle your type of book, send queries and wait. If agents like your pitch, they ask to see the first chapter and a synopsis. Months later, you might get a letter saying it wasn’t what they were looking for. Or they might want to take you on as a client, but then might not be able to sell your book to a publisher.

The outcome is out of your control so all you can do is keep trying to get one of the gatekeepers to let you in the magic door. It wasn’t easier to get published, just less complicated when the outcome of your work was decided by someone else.

Change of Focus

Today, an almost overwhelming smorgasbord of options exists to get a book published. Of course, tackling anything new is daunting but diving under those clean sheets and comforter and hibernating rather than taking on the unknown was not an option. Instead, I chose to look at it with a certain alert curiosity and an expanding mindset that:

  • Turns toward a new experience with anticipation
  • Welcomes a chance to learn something new
  • Loves an adventure
  • Takes charge of my own destiny to make my own decisions and my own mistakes.

But for right now, my next steps are to do research and make the bed.