It’s a Twofer!
Or, you gave me the power! MuahahaHA*gasp*HAAAA!!1
For the inaugural installation of Noob Notes, I’d first like to make it clear that I very much fall into the audience for this. I’m still a noob when it comes to writing and publishing. I don’t know what I’m doing, and this entire series is part of my ongoing effort to not know what I’m doing a little less. Kinda like how shrinks become shrinks so they can fix themselves. I want to fix myself as a writer.
Also in this opener, I’ll be looking at openings. So, an opening opener! (Don’t try to wiggle out of this: you were warned.) In the Art of War-
Sorry, sorry: first, a little bit of an intro into the War of Art. (See: I did it again. With my fingertips, this time.) Steven Pressfield experienced a dry spell in which he accomplished next to nothing of any note. At the end of that slump, at the lowest point of his life, he had an epiphany, or a series of them. He realized that which had prevented him from writing what he wanted to write for years was an actual thing. And if not separate from him, not something over which he had an iota of control.
He calls this force Resistance, and anthropomorphizes it throughout the book. He’s also honest that Resistance is internal, and provides only enough, well, resistance for one to give in and quit before the going gets tough. He’s also fairly mystical about it, though I know authors who talk about their muse as though it’s a separate entity with its own personality, etc. I’m not going to call them crazy over it, especially since most of them write more and better than I do. If that’s what it takes for Steven Pressfield, so be it. He might not even be wrong. I don’t know.
Resistance is the aversion you get to putting butt in chair and hands on keyboard. The sick feeling at the notion of creating, the disgust with one’s own work, the myriad distractions (chores, hobbies, … family) that one can allow to get in the way, all of these are force multipliers Resistance uses to Not Get Work Done.
The first tactic Resistance tries is to prevent you from starting in the first place. At all. All those times you (he says, staring at the guy in the mirror) spent a couple of minutes staring at the blank screen and then flipping to facebork, or booted up a game, or went and did laundry and just didn’t get back to it that day because the boychild needed picking up from preschool and you had to get a workout in and then clean up and make dinner and the wife came home late from a flight and-, that was Resistance winning.
Resistance wins. A lot. I’m working on it.
There are a number of tricks people use to confuse and befuddle Resistance, and as long as they work, so the aphorism goes, they ain’t stupid. Pomodori work well for me. A ticking clock is a challenge, and I find myself unable to ignore it. Words get mined, and work gets done. Which is to the good. Another “trick” is the methodical elimination of distractions. Put the kids in preschool (well, him. She still requires the ability control her … elimination, but that’s just a matter of timing.), bugger off to a coffee shop, turn off the wifi, set a timer on the handbrain, and get to work.
Back up: turn off the wifi. Let me repeat that. Turn. Off. The. Wifi. Cut the cord, drop the connection, whatever you need to do to remove the distraction of social media. Turn off your phone. I put up a sign on my office door, and then close it.
Put on music, if that works for you. It can for me. Heck, strip naked and paint yourself purple, so long as it encourages you to start working. Because that’s the only way to beat Resistance.