Take That, Resistance

The view from my window - the one that kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really keeps me from writing.

The view from my window – the one that kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really keeps me from writing.

The sun blazed white against a blue backdrop this morning when we woke. Jonathan opened the blinds in our bedroom and the rays flared into my eyes, unhampered by the puffy clouds that skittered across the sky. “Bwight!” Katie exclaimed, squinting up at him. “Bwight, Daddy!” He laughed, then apologized, pulling the cord to cast us back into shadow.

Now, though, the world has turned gray. The branches of our dead sugar pine – slated to be removed next week, should the weather cooperate and the ground dry out – hang stark against the dull, untextured sky behind them.

I sit here on my couch, my gaze drifting toward the window, toward that tree, and my writing is distracted, disjointed. I type, and pause, and type some more, and it takes me far too long to form a sentence, a paragraph, an essay. This is the way my writing has been, of late, what little of it has actually taken place. I cannot seem to find the words, the motivation, the drive I need. Though my sweet girl consistently sleeps well through the night, though she takes a generous nap in the afternoon, providing me with plenty of time for myself, I have been unable to string sentences together in any kind of meaningful way.

I know this problem isn’t unique to me. It’s a common struggle among those who would create. Steven Pressfield speaks of Resistance (with a capital R) in his book The War of Art, describes it almost as one would a living thing, something that actively fights the drive to make something new. There are days when I think he must be right. For instance:

Two weeks ago, I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing hosted by Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In so many ways, it was like trying to take that proverbial drink from a fire hose: two and a half days crammed full of sessions, of meetings, of bookish and nerdy conversations with others who love language and writing and all the ways that words can teach and connect and move us. I came home with a notebook full of quotes and ideas and a reawakened passion to write, write, write – to get a pen moving on paper, my fingers moving across the keyboard, to watch the stories and blog posts and essays flow effortlessly from my brain to the world. I had ideas – so many ideas – about what I might say, what words I might use. They blazed like the sun did this morning, bright, full of promise.

And then, on my first day back home again, Katie went down for her nap and I sat at my computer, anxious and ready and … nothing happened. Nothing. I watched the cursor blink at me from my screen. I stared mindlessly out the window. I clicked over to Facebook – just for a moment! – and then back to that cursed blank slate. And there were no words, nothing to say, and all too soon Katie stirred in her crib and any shot I had at writing something meaningful on that day was gone and the sky was dull, an uninspired gray, boring and untextured.

So it has been, for the past week and a half. I’ve spent most of my spare time thinking about writing, composing sentences in my head, daydreaming about the stories I might tell. I’ve spent hours thinking but no time at all actually writing.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this, precisely, except for the fact that this morning, buoyed by that fabulous blue sky, the blinding brightness of the sun, I told myself that today was the day I would actually write. Today was the day to break the ridiculous cycle, to fight Resistance, to get the words down even if they didn’t say much in the end (and, reading back, I’m afraid they haven’t. Forgive me.) Today was the day I’d say something – anything – in the hopes it would get the gears turning again, start the habit going again. Today was the day.

And so, here you go. Something written. Words put together. A post, such as it is, published.

Take that, Resistance.

How about you? Where do you encounter Resistance (remember – it manifests itself against anything worth pursuing, not just writing) – and what do you do to overcome it?

Writing

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5 Responses to Take That, Resistance

  1. Sandy says:

    Even when you think you don’t have much to offer, I love reading your writing. Sometimes it challenges me, sometimes it encourages me. It’s always enjoyable.

  2. jywatkins says:

    I’m in this same space. I haven’t had the fuel to write for weeks, but I like how you say today was the day you’d write something, anything. I think that’s what I need to do, just jump back in. I was envious of all those who attend the Festival of Faith and Writing! I’ve been wanting to go but just couldn’t make it work. Last June, I did the Frederick Beuchner Writer’s Workshop at Princeton Seminary because it was close to home enough to fit. So I’m trying to see if I can make that happen again this year.

    • Jenn says:

      Thank you, Jamie – it’s nice to know I’m not alone! 🙂 FFW this year was my first writing conference or workshop of any kind, and I was very grateful for the opportunity. It’s definitely worth the time if you can squeeze it in – they have so many sessions and speakers that it seems like there’s really something for everyone. I took a quick glance at the Frederick Buechner Workshop schedule. Wow. That looks like it could be really good. I hope you get to go!

      • jywatkins says:

        Thanks Jenn! I went last year to the Frederick Buechner Workshop and that was my first writing conference/workshop. It was great, so I’m trying to make it work!

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