All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Writing and Resistance

"I don't want to get out of bed!" echoed throughout our house on plenty of mornings when I was a child. Sure, I enjoyed school - even loved it at times - but going there was an issue. After all, getting to school meant first getting out of a warm bed and entering cold reality. The Midwest winters made sure that once I left those toasty blankets, I would never be warm for the rest of the day. Whether it was walking to school through slushy snow, waiting on a bus stop with a slashing wind euphemistically referred to as, "brisk," or dashing to a friend's place to wait for their car to warm up so I could get a ride, there was nothing fun about this. No, I did not want to get out of bed.

As we can readily see, the cold weather wasn't the actual issue - it was just the initial point of resistance between me and school, but it was enough to make the entire task seem nigh impossible from the perspective of a warm bed. This is the core of many problems when we are having trouble writing. We are not distraught by the long-term goal, but rather some step in between that makes the rest of everything seem impossible. It's easier to stay in bed than to push our way through to write the Great American Novel.

I didn't learn this little lesson until well after my school years, but it became a valuable tool for my future endeavors. When we write, we need to be in the moment, focusing on our storytelling and creating that special world of words. However, to get past a lot of the short-term obstacles, we also need to keep an eye on that long-term goal - the final product; our story, poem, essay, or what have you. Looking at the moment while tracking the big picture can leave one cross-eyed, so which one do we choose?

The only clean answer I can offer is a simple one: We focus on the one that gets us writing. We do what we need to do to get out of bed, touch our feet to the cold floor, and start the journey. If that means focusing strictly on the next moment of washing up for school and not worrying about the weather until we go outside, then that's fine. If instead it is easier to think about walking into that heated school and sitting down in that first class of the day, that works too. The point is, we need to turn away from all the things that keep us hiding under the blankets: thoughts of the snow, the wind, our frozen toes. We need to find our focal point, and go after it.

In my better moments of writing, I am able to think of the long game - the final product - while focusing on the scene I am creating. However, those moments are few and far between. Usually I have to put my head down and just obsess about the next dialogue exchange, the next description, the next word that needs to be typed. However, that's okay. The point is, I am typing. I am creating. I am not hiding under my blankets while my father yells, "Get out of bed!" which only forces me into deeper hiding. 

When you find yourself overwhelmed by whatever the world is throwing at you (and I think we can all agree that the world has been doing quite a bit of that lately), look for that one point that will allow you to move forward. Either the big picture or just the next word, do something to get closer to that point, and you will be making progress. This counts for life, by the way, and not just writing. However, since this is a writing blog, consider this my writing advice. It boils down to a simple task:

"Get out of bed!"


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