The Journey to Publication, Writing

Impatience and Run-away Days

Do you ever have one of those days when all you want to do is run away?

Flowers in my garden – a good place to run away to.

For my birthday a few weeks back, my husband bought me a brand new laptop. It was unexpected, sweet, and quite lovely – it’s so much faster than the old one. It also came with sample games pre-installed, which were surprisingly addictive. I don’t like computer games. I am generally quite disciplined … except for, it would seem, last week.

Or today. When I’d actually reduced my word count with some light editing as I re-read what I’d written, but then stubbornly continued to bounce up from the seat to do everything BUT just write, like I was supposed to be doing, like I’ve actually reserved time to do since my parents take the kidlet to give me some peace and quiet.

Eventually, I did get some writing done (some 4151 words, though I think it would have been more if I hadn’t deleted so many before I actually started the count).

So, back to you: do you ever have one of those days where you just want to run away from work, responsibility, everything? Disappear into meaninglessness?

Today was one of those days, so I thought I’d give you five tips on how to defeat them – and actually still get work done – without making yourself crazy. It worked for me today, so maybe it will work for you too.

1. Offer yourself a future award that is only to be enjoyed after the work is done. (Yes, it’s childish, but it still works.)

2. Place said-reward where you can see it when you’re working. I put my tiny chocolate bar on the corner of my desk – beware not to put chocolate too close to the computer as they have sometimes been known to melt when the laptop exhausts it’s fan.

3. Take note of the time you have begun. Promise yourself you will remain in the chair for at least an hour. It can be exactly an hour to the second – but an hour (or whatever length of time works best for you.)

4. Open your work, and force yourself to start typing. Especially on a day like this, no deleting – this will simply become a new excuse not to create new work. JUST KEEP TYPING (or whatever else it is you’re working at).

5. Follow the path of the story and your inclination today. Remind yourself that editing, rewrites, additions and deletions are for another day; today you are just getting new words written without judgment. Continue in this process until either your allotted time runs out (if you still want to run away, allow yourself to do so after this time, and reward yourself for actually working – yes, it’s just one of those days.)

What I discovered was that although a part of me certainly still wanted to run away, another part of me hadn’t noticed that my allotted hour had run out about an hour before, and I was still working – and things were going well. Was the writing as great as some days? As easy? No. But that’s okay, because at least I did my writing.

So, try out my five steps, see if they work for you. Any others work for you? How do you get yourself working and keep yourself motivated on the run-away  kind of days?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

The Journey to Publication, Writing

Five Ways to Break Through Creative Resistance

Okay, so I was thinking about it, and while last week’s post discussed my own desire to break through my own creative resistance and fear, I didn’t really address how others can do this, which is kind of like cheating. After all, if the post isn’t useful to you, what’s the point?

So, first, let’s look at how to identify resistance in yourself. Do you have the following (or have you felt) the following symptoms:

– an almost irresistable urge to suddenly go clean or organize something rather than write or create what you’re supposed to?

– a sudden spatial aversion to going anywhere near your area of work – as though by not seeing the workspace, you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing work?

– a desire to watch hours of mindless television?

– a long list of mindless necessities that MUST be done before you do anything you “want” to do, like actually create?

– a mind whirring on all cylinders, but like a sieve and focusing on nothing?

– a sudden need to do all sorts of things you’ve either suddenly remembered but which haven’t been important for the past year, like reading that latest book, learning the rules of cricket, or cleaning the grout in the shower?

– a lack of time for creativity because it’s all been used up somewhere else?

These symptoms and many others – since resistance is a master at customizing itself for each of us – are a sure sign you’re facing resistance. What you do about it is part of what defines you in part as a person, and certainly as an artist and professional.

How to overcome resistance:

1 – Don’t quit. This sounds ridiculously stupid, I know, but here’s the thing: if you keep fighting, keep chipping away at whatever is blocking you, eventually you will break through the resistance. Indeed, it may take a few drafts to correct the section or get it how you want it, but at least you’ve been working, even if the pace isn’t as you’d like.

2 – Recognize the resistance for what it is: fear (almost always). Why is it there? Is it valid? What are you going to do about it? There are lots of games where you encounter a monster or something, and your choices are to either face and try to beat it, go around, or run away. Which will you choose?

3 – Go around. Resistance is wily, but so are you – can you go around it? Beating your head against the brick wall won’t get you through – but there’s probably a door or window in the wall, so why not go that way? Allow yourself another option to get through or in.

4 – Work up to it. Perhaps it’s one particular aspect of your creation that is causing creation, because it’s so essential to the plot, it brings up issues from your past, it will be so visible, it isn’t something you’ve done before, etc, etc. So, lead yourself up to it, gently, like leading a child frightened of a dog up to the dog. Don’t jump or startle the dog, but make friends first, make it friendly, and move slowly forward. Eventually, the dog will be running along beside you.

5 – Release rigidity and the need for perfection – especially in a first draft or attempt. We may want things to be “just so,” but it’s amazing the places you can be taken if, instead of ordering and demanding your work go somewhere it clearly doesn’t want to, you follow and see where it may lead to. This is similar to brainstorming, when you don’t reject any possibility, and instead let form and imagination carry you.

For further reading and suggestions to overcome your own resistance, I highly recommend to any artist – writer or other – the following books (no big surprises here if you read the blog¬† – I’ve recommended these books before):

The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

 

So, has this helped you out? Have you broken through resistance? Have you found other methods work for you? Please, share so they may help others. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and have a great week.

The Journey to Publication, Writing

Resistance is Futile! : Breaking Through Internal Resistance

As I’ve been getting back into the writing groove this year, I’ve found myself floundering a bit when I found I was unable to focus on any one thing or any one project. I think most of us can recognize that this is a kind of resistance we all face in our creativity, a resistance to create, to try something new, and sometimes, to continue on with work that we’ve already begun.

For me, I know that I’ve still been having quite mixed feelings about the new year, and about where it is I want to go, and where I think I’m headed (unfortunately, not the same place). And it’s also these sorts of thoughts that keep me from doing what’s the most important: writing. Because whether I’m the most successful at why I do, or still struggling to find my place, at all stages I’m useless unless I’m actually producing my product, which in this case is a new manuscript, new writing, new words.

So, I’m back to work, and deciding resistance is futile, because I won’t let it stop me. And you know what? Today, it really hasn’t been. Last night I forced myself to ignore all the voices in my head telling me I wasn’t writing the right thing, perhaps I should just abandon the projects I’m working on, nothing is what I want, it’s all too much work, etc, etc, etc. Instead, I thought of just one project and tried to identify: what is it that’s stopping me? Why have I been struggling with getting work done?

I realized that it was fear. Indeed, fear usually prevents us from doing what we want to do. And sure, it can be great when some part of our brain says “jump off the cliff” – since jumping off the cliff is risky, and so our fear protects us. Unfortunately, it also likes protecting us from things we need to do, and need to accept into our lives, like change, evolution. In my particular case, I decided that what I wanted to do was embrace my fear, and in fact, incorporate it into my writing, use it as a central theme and idea – and indeed, prove that it can and will be overcome.

So, how are you projects coming this year? Is fear trying to hold you back? What fears do you have? How do you plan to combat them?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.