Writer’s Block, Resistance, and the Grind

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

-Jack London

Sword2So I finally finished Chapter 11 of The Sword over the weekend. For a transitional chapter, this one took forever. I’m not sure if the culprit that dragged it out over so many weeks was a loss of confidence in my own abilities, being distracted by other life business, or just an inability to bridge the gap from where I was in the novel and where I needed to get to.

One thing that’s definitely happening is I’m already seeing things I’m gonna want to fix in editing. Some characters are hanging in the background and not very clearly defined. I’m uncertain if my protagonist isn’t wandering a bit. So I might have been pausing to take stock.

It’s hard to say. Writing a novel is something like having an argument with imaginary friends. You may have ideas about what they ought to be, but they start insisting to be what they really are, and you have to negotiate the way to display that.

In any case, one thing I’ve never found particularly useful are the various Tips and Tricks to Beat Writer’s Block. I’m not saying others won’t find them useful, but to me they just feel like make-work. The technique I find most useful is as follows:

  1. Put butt in seat.
  2. Put fingers on keyboard.
  3. Let whatever comes out suck. You can fix it or toss it later if you want to.

Stephen Pressfield writes about Resistance in The War of Art, which he describes as anything, any thought or habit, that conspires to prevent you from completing what you have taken on. And thinking of Writer’s Block, or lack of confidence, or the Critical Eye, as forms of Resistance, is useful in terms of putting the task of Finishing above all else.

Which means that Resistance happens, and it’s okay. You will deal with it from time to time. Just keep going. Just mash the keys. Just finish. Grind it out

Chapter 12 is a Big Deal. I’m feeling good about beginning it.



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