Resistance and the Writer’s Battle of Self-Doubt

I’d never encountered writer’s block, or Resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it, like this before. I’ve always put Neil Gaiman’s philosophy to practice – that people won’t be able to tell if you wrote when inspired or not, you just need to get the words out.

But I have to admit I am here. Resistance is winning big time. I delete more words than I put down and no matter how I push against this Wall I can’t seem to move it. My creativity is suffocating.

Have you ever been there – where you just could not stomach the march forward that your book required? Have you ever thought your message had zero impact and no one would notice whether you wrote or not?

The comforting part about these questions is that every writer has been there. From Euripides to Chaucer to JK Rowling to you, every single person that aspired to write has encountered this feeling before.

If the above statement is true, how did they get past the Wall of Resistance?

Brick wall

Courtesy David Playford Freeimages.com

 

Last week was the dark battle.

Philosophical questions about my worth surfaced.

These questions were enemies I thought I defeated long ago. Turns out they are always there and I was unequipped to face them this time.

Then a thought occurred to me as I sat down to put words on the page again, something I am sure I read but have forgotten the attribution.

Writing is about writing not about who I am or what I’ve done or not done. It’s about putting another word down. All of it is momentum. And momentum can be slow and grueling. It can take an hour to string four sentences together.

I tricked myself into believing that writing would be inspiring every time I put myself in my chair and when I wasn’t enjoying myself and the progress was deleting the bad and not adding the good, I came away discouraged. When that happens too many times doubts can surface, ugly doubts.

There is a saying in our house. When my young children are crying in the middle of the night or won’t go to bed I repeat it to myself or say aloud to my wife  – parents win every time. No matter how long the crying or the number of questions or mess in the room parents win by persisting, by rising above.

If you are here, at the edge of giving up like me, remember that writing is work.

It’s taking punches as much as giving them.

Sometimes you have to wait for your opponent to tire before striking back.

This blog post is my first attempt at a left hook.

What’s yours?

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Writer, Need Inspiration? Here Are Three Ways To Get It

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve been there – the dark forest of writing.

There are no words here, no progress, only suffocating doubt and self-loathing. Every writer has experienced this before and just when we think this feeling will never surface it’s ugly face again, there it is.

Getting stuck is easy.

Stopping halfway through a book is normal.

But how do you get unstuck?

Are there elements that a writer can incorporate into their life so that these valleys are few and not as dark and deep?

 

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Yes. Here are three ways to get inspired again. These will also reinforce the writer that is on the mountaintop of inspiration.

FIND A SCENIUS

Austin Kleon is a connector. He repackages ideas and makes them accessible. One of his ideas is described in his book Show Your Work!. It is the idea of Scenius.

He claims that the lone genius myth is just that, falsehood. Writers, artists, and anyone that has achieved any level of success did that inside a community that fostered the pursuit.

Find a group of people that love writing and hang out with them. Online, in a bookstore, or come to the Jot Conference. This has been pivotal in the lives of each of the founders of this conference.

IF IT’S NOT WORKING DO DIFFERENTLY

Ever stop to examine your process? Ever come to the same worn out and unproductive conclusions after writing in the same place, with the same utensils, at the same time? 

Sounds like it’s time for you to make a change. 

Get up early or stay up late. Go for a walk and sit on a mossy log and write using physical instruments – paper and pen.

I was in the dark depths of writing for a while, then I began rising early and suddenly, even though I knew I was done as a writer, the passion for words flooded back.

Often we need a break from monotony. A newness, a freshness to reinvigorate us on the writing road. Doing differently is a shock to the creative system.

CREATE MARGIN

We’re all busy. It’s the response to the question – how are you doing? Busy we say. Everyone has too much to do. Too many obligations. Too many service projects. Too many organizations to which we are committed. There is little time for joy, thrill, and novelty. Our weeks are planned out and we are sleeping five hours a night.

Most of the activities listed above are not bad things – save maybe the five hours of sleep a night – but we all need space. Our bodies need down time to rest and our brains and creativity wells need the same.

During a difficult season at my job where satisfaction was at an all time low I decided to incorporate a walk into my lunch. I grabbed a pen and notebook and began walking in the woods. I’d sit down on a bench, stare into the dark green forest or bare trees and snow covered earth and let the ideas come. I’d write them down if I thought they were worth keeping and sharing.

Don’t believe a walk is beneficial? C.S. Lewis loved walks. As did T.S. Eliot. It’s the white space where our brains rest and ideas can surface.

Today, if you need a little writing pick me up, I challenge you to find your own Scenius, do differently, or create some margin by saying no to one obligation this week.

This post first appeared on Part-Time Novel.com

Do you have tips for getting inspired? Share below.

JOT IS ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!

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If you’ve been following me long enough you know about the Jot Conference, even if you don’t live in the US or Michigan. It’s a one day free conference that celebrates the love of writing. It’s a place of encouragement and growth and connection.

This next Jot will be considerably smaller than the previous conferences because of the venue. But that does not mean it will be any less impactful to your writing career.

This Jot will be intimate and accessible. You’ll be able to interact with the presenters and encourage each other by sharing the mutual joy we have.

I hope you come with questions and are prepared to share during the breaks and after the presentations.

Great life happens in community.

I hope to see you there.

Sign up here!

Click here for location and time.

Previously posted on https://parttimenovel.wordpress.com

10 Reasons to Attend The Next Jot

jot_logoJot is a week and a half away! I hope you have signed up HERE to claim your seat.

As we’ve moved locations, I’d like to offer you 10 reason to make the trip a hour and fifteen minutes south.Jot will be small and intimate this year.

  1. Jot will be small and intimate this year. If you wanted to connect with other writers, this would provide an excellent opportunity.
  2. A change of pace can shake us out of our comfort zones. This provides a new venue and a tremendous atmosphere.
  3. You’ll get home late, probably around midnight. This might seem like a reason not to come. I get it. But if you refer to number two, this makes sense. A drive at midnight when the moon is high and the air is crisp. Sounds inspiring doesn’t it?
  4. You get to explore one of the best use book collections in the region. Endless books in an old store font in a quaint downtown.
  5. Three Rivers has several parks. If you come early you can head out the back of the bookstore, cut across a parking lot, and cross a bridge to an Island. Across the street is another and in between a coffee shop.
  6. If you like to hunt for antiques or shop fair trade. There are several stores downtown that will satisfy this itch.
  7. It can be a getaway. You could head down for an early breakfast, peruse the shops, grab lunch, check out the free bind at Lowry’s or buy a book, get coffee, sit under a tree near the river to read, take a nap, eat dinner, and then enjoy a writers conference. What more could you ask for in a relaxing day?
  8. You’ll hear great content capped by an interview from the editor of a literary magazine.
  9. You get to hear great content for free. Enough said.
  10. You’ll meet other aspiring writers. Collaboration is the key to survival in the writing life. Jot would not be possible without it. Be bold and say hello. You might find a writer friend that will last years.

What Do You Love Most About Jot?

Jot is roughly two weeks away! (September 12th 6-10PM in Three Rivers, MI) Our free one night writers conference will feature – journal editors, acquisition editors, bloggers, poets, poetry editors, marketers, novelists, flash fiction writers, and you!

We’re thrilled about meeting with other writers both new and familiar and sharing the love we have about the written word.

Jot is and will always be about you, the attendee. If you’ve been to a Jot conference before, would you take a moment and answer one of the questions below in the comments section? This will help new Jot attendees get to know the event before it begins.

Click here to register and claim your seat.

Thank you and we hope to see you in a few weeks!

Have you been to Jot before? What was your experience?

What do you love most about the Jot Conference?

Did a speaker or workshop help you in anyway? Tell us how!

What have you learned from Jot?

How did you hear about Jot?

What success have you experienced since attending Jot?

Write Characters Your Readers Will Love To Hate

I like most real people. I don’t often have day dreams of killing anyone. But if you asked me about Thomas from Downton Abbey or Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter or The Governor from the Walking Dead, my blood boils.

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC via Compfight cc

I keep waiting for them to get hit by a car or a spell or turned into a zombie! I mean come on already!

I know I’m a horrible person. But aren’t the writers of these books and shows genius?

There you are, hoping for something good to (finally!) happen to the character you love and cherish, and suddenly so and so knows your character’s dark secret or shady past and they can use it to their advantage. Your audience groans (maybe even throws your book! That would be grand, eh?).

This is the power of good fiction. This is the unfortunately life of the characters your readers will love. Inevitably, maybe even for reasons beyond their favorite character’s control, a bad dude gets to have power over them or even have their day.

This is the fun part. This is why your readers will keep reading. What will happen next? Will this greasy or terrible person use this nugget of power now or will they hold onto it and use it when the moment is best for them and worst for the character your audience roots for?

This is why I keep reading and watching.

This is why your audience will too.

Grab Your Seat At The Jot Conference Today!

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Jot is less than one month away! We cannot believe it. I hope you are as excited as we are.

Because of the location change we need you to do us a favor and go and sign up individually.

You can do that HERE.

Again, it’s free per usual! It is on Saturday, September 12th from 6-10pm

Click here for information about the bookstore.

Click here on why we moved for this Jot. 

Click here for the Jot presentation schedule

What can you learn from this years’ Jot? Glad you asked.

You’ll learn how to write like a viking, blog with passion and persistence, edit out those horrible lines that keep breaking your readers’ focus, and about poetry from a poetry editor of Structo Magazine.

Most of all you’ll have a chance to meet with other writers and gain some excitement and momentum to do your own work.

Don’t forget to share on your social media channels!

SIGN UP BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK TODAY!