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Jan 05

Tackling Resistance: First Book Blues

WHAT’S PLAYING: The Red Hot Chili Peppers “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

Has this ever happened to you? You’re writing away, and realize that you’re almost finished. Your labor of love is nearly complete. At first, you’re elated. It’s almost over. All the sleepless nights and cancelled dates, they’ve all come down this moment. You let out a whoop, dance a jig, and sit down to finish your very first book.

But then, you check your e-mail. Or play solitaire. Or update your status on Facebook and Twitter. You do everything but write. The next thing you know, four hours have passed and it’s time for bed.

How did this happen? More importantly, why did it happen? What makes finishing a story so hard when starting one is so easy? Short answer: resistance. The dictionary defines resistance as “any force that tends to retard or oppose motion.”

(Baby, you ain’t kidding.)

I’ve come up against some serious resistance in my own writing lately. Words are coming slowly, if at all. I find myself actively looking for excuses not to write. Even this blog has been a struggle. I suppose I could blame it on my crazy work schedule, school, or any number of distractions, but the truth is – on a subconscious level at least – I don’t want to finish my novel.

I want to be a writer more than anything, and I want to share my writing with the world. It’s this particular novel that’s giving me fits. Why? Because it’s my first. Good or bad. Boring or whatever. This is ground zero, from which everything else springs.

Now, I find myself dreading that inevitable next step. The Critique. Yes, I know it’s an important, even crucial, step in the revision process, but I’m still terrified. What if they don’t get it? What if the writing isn’t good enough? Worst of all, what if the story sucks?

I don’t expect everyone to like my writing. (I’m hopeful, but not delusional.) But this is the story I want to tell. If it isn’t any good, well…then I’m screwed. Grammar, voice and technique, I can fix. But if the story doesn’t work, then it’s over. At least, for this novel.

How does one overcome resistance? One thing that seems to work for me is not thinking about what comes next. Focus on writing, choose each word with care and take satisfaction in the craft.

Who can resist that?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/01/tackling-resistance-first-book-blues/

6 comments

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  1. S.Z. Williams

    I 100% understand this feeling (both the resistance to finishing and the fear of critique). I think you have a good plan for overcoming there.

    1. justjacqui2

      Thanks, S. It seems to be working so far. How do you overcome your own fear and resistance?

      1. S.Z. Williams

        I give myself deadlines to discourage resistance. Self-imposed deadlines may seem weak, but it works on my anxieties and forces me to finish. As for the fear of critique, I think I got over the worst part of it when I critiqued a friend’s work and saw for myself how helpful the process could be. Now that I’ve allowed others to read my work and benefited, I’m sold.

        1. justjacqui2

          S, self-imposed deadlines aren’t weak. I admire your discipline. I was supposed to be done last month. Critiques are extremely useful. I belong to a wonderful group, who have helped me revise several short stories. Novels are different. More effort, time and heart has gone into writing this book. I’m still afraid, but I know the best thing for the story is to let others help me make it better. Good luck with your writing!

  2. Cunningham Ortiz

    Hi Jacqui,

    Way to go for being honest about the struggle to get back to writing–the fear is always sneaking around the corner, I find as well, when that is happening to me. Like right now, when I’d rather comment than write, lol! Anyway, I loved how you used the picture of the warped clock in your Tweet…Something else I have yet to attempt to do!

    1. justjacqui2

      Thanks. I think one of the best ways to defeat fear is to face up to it, admit your weaknesses, and try to do better. I’m grateful that your procrastination led you to comment on my blog. 🙂 The picture was easy. I just put it in my post and set my blog up to automatically post to Twitter. I don’t know much about technology or the interweb, so I try to keep things as simple as possible. Good luck with the writing and let me know if I can help!

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