On this first Wednesday, Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) asked, “When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end?” According to one famous writer, the solution begins by acknowledging the problem: Resistance.
Recognizing Resistance Is the Problem
Steven Pressfield wrote exhaustively about the problem in The War of Art.
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”
We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us
Back in the 70s, Walt Kelly’s cartoon Pogo captured the heart of Resistance.
Resistance: The Long Journey
Writers often measure the progress from wanting to write to producing the work by what goes on in their heads — that long journey between our left and right ears. Pressfield’s book contains dozens of reasons writers avoid making the most of whatever time they have to write.
For example, Resistance often comes disguised as fear.
“Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
Pressfield offers actionable advice to beat resistance, but first, you must cross the chasm between your left and right ears.
Intellectual curiosity helps, but just knowing what to do doesn’t overcome Resistance. You must do the work.
Even if something appears difficult or impossible, the author offers this insight:
“Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years.”
Resistance Hates Serious Writers
Pressfield points out that successful authors treat their work like a vocation — a calling of the highest order. Unsuccessful writers treat their efforts like a hobby.
Overcome Resistance with Commitment
When the going gets tough writing the story, I keep producing because of my commitment.
I’m committed to planting seeds with my writing — seeds of entertainment, information, and inspiration.
➨The Power of Stories
The best thing about the future: it comes one choice at a time; thus, informed decisions foreshadow probable outcomes.
Through books, writers have the power to influence choices made at life’s crossroads.
➨One Story at a Time
Top-quality fiction entertains, informs, and inspires. Through stories, readers learn the likely results of their choices, helping them transform their lives by avoiding negative consequences.
The story you write has the power to shape the lives of young and old.
The commitment to overcome resistance and do the work comes one choice at a time.
And if you want a gentle nudge, but you need a firm shove, get Steven Pressfield’s book.
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When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If you have not started writing, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?
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Above all, the IWSG site is fun and informative!
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I think the hardest part of writing is sitting down to write, the getting started part. I try to do it before my mind complains. It works for many aspects of my life: household cleaning chores, going outside in winter to exercise or walk the dog, cooking a complicated dinner. Don’t think; just hurry and start.
Excellent! Thanks, Priscilla.
I am a huge Steven Pressfield fan. Gates of Fire is way up my list of favorite books (close to Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors). I haven’t considered him as a purveyor of writing advice, but this is excellent.
Shawn Coyne is the editor of Pressfield’s books, and the latter influenced the former on the book Story Grid (Black Irish Entertainment LLC), heavily influenced by Robert McKee’s book Story.
When the going gets tough, I make myself open the story document and write a few sentences anyway, even if I’m not “feeling it.” I like the sound of Pressfield’s book. It sounds like it would be a great encouragement for the many times I’m discouraged about writing. Just this post of yours helped me persevere and make progress on my current WIP yesterday!
Thank you for sharing! When I don’t feel like writing, I make myself open the story document and write a few sentences, even if I’m not “feeling it.” I like the sound of Pressfield’s book, encouragement for the many times I’m discouraged about writing. Your post helped me push through the resistance and make some progress on my current WIP yesterday!
You’re welcome, Kelsey! For novelists and screenwriters, Pressfield’s book points toward an absolute for writers: do the work.