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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Summer Reading Challenge

I have a problem. I buy books. Too many books. I measure things I want in books – specifically – used books. As in – I’d love to buy the latest tablet but that’d be like eighty used books.

I’d rather have the books.

Murder at the Vicarage

My Latest Book

Thus as an avid book fan and reader and writer of them I submit this thought to you during this beautiful summer.

A lot of luster can be lost on reading when we turn to the same old self-help, western, romance, fantasy, and classic author. Yes, even classics can get dull when that is all we read. I once heard an interview where author Neil Gaiman said Tolkien didn’t read fantasy books, he read books on Old Norse and Finnish philology and it helped him, obviously, write books of his own flavor.

As you think of what book you may devour this summer go out of the way. Despise ordinary and go on a distant hunt, far away from your normal go-to genre as possible. If you read fiction only by male writers get a non-fiction book written by a female like Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet. If you only read romances check out H. G. Well’s The Time Machine.

We all have different tastes but reading the usual suspects is akin to going to the same restaurant and ordering the same thing. There are millions of books out there. Good ones. I wrote an article last year published here about how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein changed my life. It was pure accident and I am forever grateful for it.

So go out there and read. Challenge your mind with a new flavor of novel. If you want a suggestion ask below. If you have already decided please share.

Neil Gaiman On Writing

Last week I said I would reveal exciting information about the next Jot. I apologize for not following through. There are some lingering conversations and I will save that post for next week.

Today’s post is a video from one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman.

Why is he a favorite? Because he knows how to tell a terrific story that pulls you in and never lets go.

The Graveyard Book was introduced to me a few years ago by fellow Weakling Andrew Rogers. It’s the story of a boy raised by ghosts. From the very first line I was hooked –

“There was a hand in the dark, and it held a knife.”  Gaiman, page one, line one,The Graveyard Book. 

The book is both delicate in word choice and chilling. If you are looking for a delicious summer read, I highly recommend this one. Please enjoy the clip below.

Mr. Neil Gaiman On Writing.