Friday, August 15, 2008

Writer's Resistance

I just finished a class on overcoming "Writer's Resistance" at the local literary center. I don't think I have writer's block. It's more like writer's sluggishness, and I suspect the main cause is working 30+ hours a week.

But I also suspect there are other reasons why I drag my heels when it comes to writing. So the class seemed like a good idea.

I found it very hard to follow through on the teacher's good suggestions, and I'm still trying. She feels that making commitments and keeping them is really important. Tell yourself that you will write at least 15 minutes every day and then do it, come rain or shine. Make the commitment small and manageable, rather than large and scary. You can do extra, if you want to. But always do the 10 or 15 minutes you said you would do.

Doing the writing, which she calls product, is not easy. I'm writing a fair amount right now, but not according to the pattern I have committed to, as part of the class. I seem to be deliberately not following the teacher's suggestion. "Here's a story, but -- hah! -- I did it without following the rules."

Even harder are the other commitments she suggested: time spent at 'process,' work done playfully, with no intention of getting any kind of product; and time spent at 'destruction,' which she suggested might be cleaning, getting rid of clutter, or pulling weeds in the garden.

I don't have a garden, but I certainly have plenty of files that could be gone through, both paper and electronic. Boy, is it hard for me to spend even 10 or 15 minutes clearing that stuff out.

'Process' is a problem for me, because I am not playful.

Her final commitment is 'self-care,' and this is easy right now, because I am going to the Y.

I think she is on to something, so I am trying to keep a list of what I'm doing every day in the way of self-care, process, product and destruction, aka cleaning. None of it is easy, but I am ending with a cleaner home. Though I am still avoiding the files.


Paul Lamb said...

I don't know. Ten or fifteen minutes of writing is just warm-up time for me. By then I would be about ready to do the real writing. So if all I had was 15 minutes available each day, it would be frustrating and pretty much wasted. The warm-up would be valid but useless because I couldn't go from there. So then why begin if that's all I could do?

MariAdkins said...

Pretty much what Paul said. And...I know a woman who's daily writing goal is 100 words per day. To me, that's just getting started...

Anonymous said...

I have a suspicion I'm the instructor in question, so I'd like to clarify that there is no requirement that says you HAVE to stop after 15 minutes. If you show up and put in your 15 minutes and what to keep writing, by all means, keep going! In fact, the magic in the approach is that most writers get past what I call the "initial inertia" in that time and want to keep writing.
Many writers think they HAVE to have big blocks of time to write and somehow those just never happen. Keeping the commitment small is what makes it possible to show up at all some days.
Even if you only write for the 15 minutes, you'll still get more done showing up for 15 minutes a day, five days a week than you ever will waiting for the day when you have hours of uninterrupted time or feel "inspired."