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?

 

coffee cup

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.

The Jot Writers’ Conference Returns! 9.9.16

Friday, September 9th, 2016

FREE Admission – Event begins at 7pm

Open to all writers. Rookies. Veterans. And everyone in between.
Open to writers of any genre.

The Jot Writers’ Conference is a biannual, one-night event for writers held each spring and fall in West Michigan. It features short, TED-style talks on various aspects of writing and publishing. Admission is free. Come for the inspiring speakers. Stay for the coffee and the chance to meet other writers.

Or just find a nook in the bookstore and write all evening. Don’t worry. We totally get it. 🙂

LOCATION

Baker Book House
2768 East Paris Avenue
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

GUEST SPEAKERS

Aric DavisARIC DAVIS is the author of seven books: From Ashes Rise: A Novel of Michigan, Nickel Plated, A Good and Useful Hurt, The Black Death: A Dead Man Novella, Rough Men, Breaking Point, The Fort and Tunnel Vision. He is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he worked for sixteen years as a body piercer; he now writes full time. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters, hockey, and a good cigar.

 

 
Sarah Grimm

S. D. GRIMM’S first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

 

 

 

Tom Springer 2015 300dpiTOM SPRINGER is an essayist, journalist, and environmentalist. He has written about nature and outdoor travel for newspapers and magazines such as Backpacker, Michigan Out-of-Doors, and Notre Dame, and his nature-themed commentaries have aired on several National Public Radio programs. His collection of essays, Looking For Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest (University of Michigan Press), was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2009. Springer holds a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University. He lives near Three Rivers, Michigan.

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?

What Is Your Favorite Writing Tool?

I am the king of Post-it notes. They are on my wallet, my cell phone, and there is one on my computer now. Somehow, I always find myself with a billion ideas and no way to collect them all.

Sure, I could put them in a note book and squint at them later or store them in a word file or Google document that I’ll never open, but I wanted to SEE them. I wanted to be able to lay them down side by side and also track my writing progress.

Thus enter my favorite writing tool – my white board.white-board-1206708-m

My wife was at the office supply store and discovered they were wicked cheap and on sale. I’d love a nice frosted glass, trendy one, but I’d also like to not change my one year olds’ diapers. I have to understand what is necessary and what is me just wanting a cool new toy.

The reality is that having that writing software/tool is not going to make me better. Working hard consistently is. And now I have a place to keep track of my progress and flesh out ideas thanks to my wonderful bride.

I’ve hung the white board next to my bed so I can review tasks every day before I go to sleep and remind myself of upcoming goals and deadlines. I can also gaze at it as I doze off and make a mental note to get up early and get to work.

What is your favorite writing tool? How do you stay organized and on top of your tasks?

Getting Your Writing Groove Back

When a writer says, “I just can’t find the groove,” anyone who has every written a novel, short story, or article of any sort knows exactly what they are talking about.

It has been called many things: muse, rhythm, pulse, tempo – whatever it is that keeps the writer moving, their fingers to the keyboard, or pen to the page in a way that is both satisfying and liberating. It flows, like waters breaking through a dam, surging, cascading, dancing all over the countryside in your mind. It is the culmination of your idea, your story, your characters, your plot, your unequivocal love for language, unleashed.

Unfortunately for me, and perhaps for you, it is a hard thing to find. Writing time has the tendency to evaporate, and there are only so many mornings you can force yourself out of the bed in the wee hours before the thrill of your tale becomes dull.

Your work is no longer easy. It is no longer joyful. If there was a surge of ideas somewhere in your being you lost the key to that place a long, long time ago. I think it is okay to admit this. It is alright to say that you are in a rut. It is not writers block that I am talking about, I am talking about a loss of energy or gumption and, it might be shameful to admit, desire.

Photo Credit: [ changó ] via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: [ changó ] via Compfight cc

You may find, as I have, that releasing these thoughts to a journal or blog can very well be a way through all of this. Just to have gained traction in any sort of writing, helps, and it helps a lot. It is like stretching your muscles before a game, or going over note cards before a test. It puts you in a mode. It prepares you for the mental battle.

It is important to understand how we work, and more importantly how we can overcome these stoppages in our work. For me, its just to find some way to continue the writing process. For you it might not be writing but reading something different than what you normally read or going through The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Poet’s & Writers, or some other writing magazine or book to be inspired.

Or maybe you need to fill your creative well by doing what the Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron instructs, by taking yourself on a writer’s date.

Whatever it is, find it. Meet head on. Battle through it, keep going, keep moving, keep your story pressing on and don’t give up. It may be, just as you thought you were at the end of your story, you burst through the clouds and find yourself in the glorious light of another finished page.