Why Writing Through Resistance is Essential


Photo credit: ~Minnea~ on Flickr

As a writer, you'll soon find there are good writing days and desperately bad writing days. We all love the good days—the moments when the words come easily and the new pages stack up quickly and you look at your fresh words with a smile and a dash of something else—pride.

When we think about writing, those are the days we like to remember.


But then there are those other days. Those awful periods when every time you look at the page you feel the powerful need to do something else—anything else. Check Twitter. Play with your Pandora settings. Scroll through your tumblr/Facebook feed. Check Twitter. Find a snack. Read that blog post. Check Twitter (someone could have @ mentioned you in the last thirty seconds, right? Right).


Then slowly, painfully, you drag yourself back to the page. Stare at it for a while. Write a few words and remember you haven't checked your e-mail in a whole hour. Check Twitter.


You get the idea.


Point is, writing isn't always easy or fun or even remotely enjoyable. Sometimes it's downright hard—so difficult, that even the most unpleasant of tasks sounds easier. All writers experience this at one point or another, and sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break. But sometimes even after your break, the words continue to fight you every step of the way.


And that's when you have to put the proverbial gloves on and get to work.


Because no, writing isn't always easy, but you knew that when you decided to do this writer-thing and you chose to pursue it anyway. Because the successful writers are the ones who don't give up, who write through the resistance, through the rejections, through the exhaustion and doubts and fears.


If you really want to do this writer-thing, you have to accept that that thing called writer's block isn't as much of a block as it is a ball-and-chain, a weight that makes every new word difficult to reach, that resists forward motion.


But it's not impossible to write through it. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. And there's a certain amount of gratitude you get from writing through the resistance because no, the words aren't perfect, but they're there. You put them there, even when you wanted to give up. They're yours.


So next time you're staring at a blank page and the resistance makes finding the words a battle, remember this little nugget of wisdom (via About.com):


"Don't get it right. Just get it written." James Thurber

Then get back to work.

What do you do to help break through the resistance?

24 comments:

Project Savior said...

"What do you do to help break through the resistance?"
Blow stuff up!
I find that I've either got too much info I'm trying to cram in, or I've made my characters life too easy. Blow stuff up around them adds action and makes the characters refocus.

Ava Jae said...

You know, that's funny because it's definitely not the answer I was expecting, but I tend to follow the wise words of Raymond Chandler, which seems similar to what you described: "When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand." 

JFeijten said...

Great post!
What do I do to help break through the resistance?
Uhm, I quit. And that's a very stupid thing to do, because you couldn't just take a day off at your job when you don't feel like working either, could you?

Writing should be the same thing. It's a job, and you don't quit it until it's done or until the time you sheduled for it has passed.

Thanks for the motivational post, Ava Jae! 

Daphne Gray-Grant said...

Great post! I think the main thing to do is to learn you DON'T have to feel great every day to be a successful writer. You just have to learn to show up. How well you write is NOT equal to how well you feel. When I wrote my book, I created a table tracking the (1) date, (2) how much time I spent writing, (3) how many words I produced, and (4) how I felt. I quickly learned there was no relationship between 3 and 4. Knowing this helped me write through the bad days... 

AtoZChallenge said...

Awesome post. Some days I have to write when that is the last thing I can bring myself to do. Every word is a small victory.























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Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome, Jeremy! I've found one of the best things writers can do is treat their writing like a job--as you said, you can't take a day off of work just because you don't feel like going in that day. Writing should be no different. 

Ava Jae said...


I think the main thing to do is to learn you DON'T have to feel great every day to be a successful writer. You just have to learn to show up. 


That is wonderful advice, Daphne. I absolutely agree. 

Ava Jae said...

I've found that especially on difficult days, every word is worth celebrating. :)

Carla said...

What do I do? I just force myself to write, word after word. I always think that the last thing you want to do is actually the more important and I use this principle also for writing.
It's very hard at the beginning, but then I find the rhythm and it becomes easier.
Actually my best pages came from one of those difficult writing sessions.

Ava Jae said...

I tend to follow that same principle as well--whatever I'm dreaded most is probably what I need to do first. As you said, it's difficult in the beginning, but I've found that the gratification from pushing through the resistance on those tough days is more than worth the extra effort. 

Christelle Hobby said...

Why must writing be the hardest part of being a writer? Ha.  It's so contradictory.  It's what we love, but it's so easy to sit there and hate on it.  Plus... Twitter.  Tweeps could be twittering up a twitfest and I will have not been able to twote my tweet.  AAAAHH!  Great post.  I enjoy your sense of humor that points out the very realistic flaws within my writing plan.

And don't even get me started on what Dancing with The Stars does to my writing game.  Must William Levy always go last?

Author Steven said...

This came at a good time for me (as these blogs tend to do) I was just checking my twitter...youtube...twitter...formspring...then twitter...then my email when I saw a new post was out on writability. Ya, do you think this also applies to plotting your novel (or in my case series) as well? Working through it when the plot ideas just aren't coming and the characters just aren't working in the unworkable plot... I think I'll go back to it and begin brainstorming. :) What's weird for me is I have yet to get actual writer's block when doing the actual writing. For me it all happens in that initial stage of plotting the book. Maybe writer's block only happens when you're brainstorming or thinking up plot ideas and it's misinterpreted (or spreads to) the actual writing itself? I dunno. Wish me luck as I dive into the thick file of notes (not to mention the literal thick file of notes I have on my desk right now!)

~Author Steven. :)

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Christelle! It's ironic how difficult doing something we love can be (and sometimes, social media only makes it worse).

I personally don't watch Dancing with the Stars, but I know exactly what you mean about the one person you want to watch always going last--I'm convinced the TV producers know who everyone will be most excited for and purposely slots them last (you know, so viewers stick around throughout the whole thing). It's devious...and it works.   

Ava Jae said...

I think writer's block can appear at all different stages, it just depends on the person. Idea generation probably has a lot to do with it--it can sometimes be difficult to write if you have absolutely no idea where you're going (although for pantsers, that uncertainty can be part of the thrill). For others, the idea can be there, but the writing itself can still be difficult for various reasons, depending on the writer. Regardless, I think it's important to push through it. 

Colin Kerr said...

When things are difficult, I recall why I'm doing them, and weigh all the competing motives against one another. The X-Box may be calling, but at some point, you believed that story had to be told, or those miles had to be run, or whatnot. Sometimes the X-Box wins. As long as I've thought about why, it's okay to say that having fun is the most important thing to do right now, and have no regrets tomorrow. Right now, however, the asphalt beckons.

Laurapauling said...

I still write but accept that I might not get as much done and I might end up rewriting. But sometimes writing through days like that produces ideas that bring on a good day!

Ava Jae said...

It can be a difficult call to make because sometimes a break is exactly what you need to recharge and get energized again before you jump back into the writing, but sometimes even after a break, it's still difficult, and that's when you need to strap down and just push through it. 

Ava Jae said...

That's a great philosophy to take. I too have found that occasionally on difficult writing days, once I push through the initial resistance, it can actually lead to either better writing days shortly thereafter due to new ideas, or just a better writing sprint that day. 

Author Steven said...

Hey Ava. I was just wondering when you're totally stuck on ideas and creativity and you need something to give you ideas and inspiration...what/who/where do you go to? :)

~Author Steven

Ava Jae said...

Hmm, well that depends. When it comes to blogging and blogging ideas, I do what I talked about in my Are You Waiting for Good Ideas? post. 

When it's for a new WIP (as in, I'm trying to come up with ideas to start a new WIP), I do a lot of brainstorming and daydreaming and I try out a whole bunch of ideas until one finally sticks (you know, the idea that just won't go away). 

When I'm stuck on ideas for a WIP I'm working on I sit down and brainstorm (I outlined a few techniques in a post titled Brainstorming a while back...I'm pretty sure I've linked you to it before, so I won't link it again). 

Otherwise, I go through my blog archives and read a lot and look at art and interesting pictures on tumblr and force myself to think about writing in one form or another at least once a day. :)

Matthew Rowe said...

My biggest crime in this area was when I was young, abandoning my first novel for about 6 months because I refused to write crap. It eventually came together, but never again!

Ava Jae said...

Sometimes the best way to learn is through experience, which seems to be the case in this example. :)

Katy Huth Jones said...

During hard times writing feels more like cutting myself and bleeding words one at a time. I have a quote by Rick Riordan by my computer similar to Thurber's: "You can't perfect your novel the first time around--just finish it!"

Ava Jae said...

That's a great quote with very sound advice. Thank you, Katy!

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