The Cure to Resistance in Writing

Photo credit: colemama on Flickr
When working on the first draft of a WIP, writers will often hit this point when the writing no longer feels like cooperating. The words that once came easy now feel like are wading through an ocean of maple syrup to get to you. Sometimes even knowing where you're going with the writing does little to help—the words fight you anyway.

For some people, this stage comes in the middle of the WIP, for others it strikes shortly after the beginning or even at the end. The when doesn't really matter—the point is that it often strikes, sometimes randomly, often unexpectedly, and it can be very difficult to get through.

For me, I've noticed that I tend to slow down at the end. Even when I know exactly how the WIP will end, even when I have a scene-by-scene breakdown, I often find that for me, the end is the hardest part to write. I'm not sure if it's the pressure of trying to write an ending that simultaneously excites and ties up loose ends and creates a sense of closure, but my point of resistance invariably strikes as I near the completion of the first draft of my WIP.

The trouble is that there isn't a guaranteed cure. There isn't a special book you can read, or diet you can eat that will magically make the words start to flow like they did before you hit the resistance. There's only one thing you can really do to get through it, and it's the one thing that at that point in time, you'll find most difficult.

You have to write.

The truth is this: the only cure for the point of resistance is to force yourself to get through it. To write even when writing is difficult. To break through the resistance with the only weapon you have—your words.

Sometimes the resistance breaks quickly and the words return as normal, and sometimes it takes many thousands of words and days or weeks of fighting to emerge victorious. But as long as you fight through it, you'll find the words again soon.

What tips do you have for writing through resistance? Do you have a common resistance point?

14 comments:

Carla said...

I agree with you. You have to write no matter how bad you think it is. Me too, I tend to slow down when I'm close to the end, but I have a little trick. I write the last sentences (or even scene) of the book beforehand. Somehow it becomes easier to fill the gap, even if you must change those sentences.

Ava Jae said...

Interesting! I hadn't thought of that, but I can see how that'd make sense. Probably works along the same lines of why outlining or having plot points to write towards is so helpful.

Robin Red said...

There we go! I've written my stories out of order before just to push through. I think like "Oh, you don't want to flow? Then I'm taking the shortcut."

Grace Robinson said...

I tend to hit resistance right before the climax, or some other dramatic, vital plot point. A tactic that often works for me is pretty much what Carla stated - write the end of the book, and then the rest of the book just becomes filling in the gaps to get to that point. Even if I don't write out the ending, I at least try to write a scene or partial scene that takes place after the part that has me stuck.

Ava Jae said...

I don't often do that, but I have a feeling once I start using Scrivener more consistently, I very well might.

Ava Jae said...

You too! I usually write in order, but I can definitely see how skipping to a part later on could help get you going again.

Daniel Swensen said...

I tend to write sarcastic asides in my own prose, basically mocking myself for writing something I'm not happy with. It doesn't make me feel bad about myself -- rather, I can laugh about it and not take it so seriously, and usually the "joke" I make at my own expense tells me the nature of the problem and how to fix it. So I go back later when I revise and take out the offending bit (and the corresponding humor).

Ava Jae said...

You know...that actually sounds really fun. I might have to try that next time I'm doing revision notes.

Michelle said...

At the end of my writing day I stop writing in the middle of a scene, when I know where I want to go, so the next day I can't wait to finish the scene.

Ava Jae said...

I've actually done that and I've also found that it can be very helpful. Not only does it solve the problem of not knowing where to go, but you're excited to write the next day. Win-win! :)

cat york said...

Oh! You just described my reluctance to a T! I'm on my 5th draft, 4th ending. I know what I have to do I just can't ... quite ... get it down. But you're right! Gotta sit down and make it happen. Thanks for this post.

Angela Ackerman said...

My resistance doesn't hit until its time to move from first to second draft. That is THE WORST draft for me!

Ava Jae said...

Absolutely, Cat. I wish you the best of luck in completing your draft!

Alex Martin said...

I completely agree with this. Besides, if nothing else you'll more about your writing as you write, and as long as you accomplish something, you're good to go!

I also blog writing tips and tricks, mind checking it out? http://salexmartin.webs.com/apps/blog/

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