I was meaning to write one of those objective posts along the lines of, ‘Ten Ways to Beat Resistance’, but it turns out I’m rubbish at those. After racking my brain, I only came up with things you’ve probably already read a hundred times before, on other, better, blogs than mine. So instead I’ll tell you about my writing struggles in the hope that you can relate to at least some of them.
So, first, I’ll confess my morning routine. Which is: feed the cat, clean up after the cat (he’s got dementia and pees all over the floor), make myself a mug of caramel latte with my Tassimo machine (joy of my life). Then…
- Check Facebook. Spend hours on Facebook.
- Check Twitter. Spend quite a while there.
- Check my email – oooh, Aldi’s got a special on cookware! Must check that out.
- Play stupid, time-wasting games like Burger Shop and Criminal Case.
- Think about lunch.
- Make lunch.
- Feel like a nap.
- Fight impulse to take a nap.
- Think about writing.
- Decide another game of Burger Shop will help revive my brain. Play for at least another hour.
- Think about writing again.
- Decide I WILL write, after I’ve fed the cat again and got myself another coffee.
- Finally sit down, at about 4pm, and psych myself up to write.
- Open Evernote and immediately feel my eyes begin to close. A comatose state overcomes me automatically which, if I could bottle and sell as a sleep aid, would make me a millionaire.
- Take a gulp of coffee and mentally YELL myself awake inside my head, like that scene in All of Me with Steve Martin.
Psyching myself up to fever pitch, I go to write my first sentence and am accosted straight away by a Greek chorus of Critical Inner Voices (CIVs):
‘You can’t just throw any old thing down! It has to be perfect, you know! 110% better than your very bestest!’
And I freeze, overwhelmed by the weight of the task before me. Yes, I reason insanely, I have to be the next Jane Austen, Anita Brookner and Gabriel García Márquez, all rolled into one. The impossibility of the task makes me curl up into a foetal position and cry.
And I was stuck repeating this sorry routine for months, until I made an appointment with a writing coach and HAD to take some writing along to show her.
Yes, a deadline was what shifted me from my writerly constipation (if you’ll pardon the metaphor). The night before my appointment, I knew I had to get something down. Anything. And that urgency was the suppository, so to speak, which FORCED the… er… well, now I’m regretting this metaphor. You get the picture. I apologise if you’re eating right now.
So, pressing with all my strength against HUGE resistance, I pecked out my first sentence.
‘THIS IS TRASH! THIS IS TRASH!’ yelled my CIVs.
‘I don’t care. I’ve got to get something written!’ I yelled back, and typed the second sentence.
Which was also trash.
But I knew I had to carry on, and then it really dawned on me why it’s called Resistance. It really is like pushing a huge, heavy boulder. At first, it was almost impossible. (Well, it was impossible, until I had the gun of a deadline against my head.) Then, the first shove was just so hard. And the second, and the third, but then the boulder began to move, just a wee bit. I kept shoving. It kept moving, imperceptibly. But after a couple of paragraphs, the boulder began to roll steadily along because, head down and typing, my momentum was building.
I managed to write for perhaps twenty minutes that first evening, because my writing muscles were small and underdeveloped. But at least I had something to take to my new writing coach.
And the next day, when I sat down to write, it was so much easier!
Actually, no. It was just as hard.
But I’m beginning to learn, as Steven Pressfield says in his book, ‘Do the Work’:
‘On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight, resistance is the dragon. The battle must be fought anew every day.’
And he’s right.