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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Is Your Writing Blocked by Invisible Resistance?

What keeps you from writing?

The most dangerous form of writer’s resistance is the resistance you can’t see.

Until you realize “I’m avoiding my writing,” you can’t move forward. The best you can hope for is that you’ll blame your circumstances. The worst is that you’ll blame yourself.

Invisible Resistance Checklist

cat invisibleUnrecognized resistance starts with thoughts or beliefs like these:

  • “I don’t have time to write”
  • “I don’t know what to write about”
  • “I can’t write unless I’m inspired”
  • “I’ll write, but first I need to check my email, messages, Twitter, etc.”
  • “I don’t know how to start”
  • “I’m not good enough yet”
  • “I better wait until I can do it perfectly”
  • “I’m going to write now, but wait, what’s that, I better check that out…”
  • “I need to do more research”
  • “If the conditions aren’t perfect, there’s no point in even trying to write”
  • “I’m not in a good place in my life to write; I’ll write after I reach the next big milestone: graduate, get married, get my kids out of diapers, get my kids through college, finish remodeling the kitchen, find a new job, etc.”

How Do You Know?

Resistance can come in so many guises, how can you know for sure?

In Around the Writer’s Block, I put it this way:

“If you’re not writing when you say you’re going to write, you are experiencing either a true emergency or some form of resistance. If you’re calling the paramedics, police or fire department, on your way to the emergency room or evacuating because of an impending natural disaster or invasion, it’s a true emergency. If you’re looking for the master shutoff for your electricity or water, it’s a true emergency. Almost everything else is a form of resistance…

I’m not saying it’s easy. But I am saying we can make it simple: either you’re a) honoring your commitments, b) facing a true emergency or c) dealing with resistance.”

If you don’t have any writing commitments, chances are you’re facing resistance.

Upcoming blogs will explore the “reasons” you can’t write and offer solutions for each.

Until then, observe what thoughts run through your head when you are committed to write (or think about making a commitment), but don’t. Please share your thoughts in a comment; I’m always curious about what gets in the way for writers.

Why do you tell yourself you can’t write? (If one of your reasons is “I don’t have time,” read the next post in this series.)

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5 Comments on “Is Your Writing Blocked by Invisible Resistance?”

  1. Joel D Canfield November 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    When my older kids were little I let them know that if my office door was closed, they only interrupted in case of emergency.

    Then I defined emergency: you actually see blood or flames. That’s it.

    When you define “emergency” and make us prove *any* exception, it’s a “stop and think” moment all right.


    • rosannebane November 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Blood and flames is a concise definition of emergency. Nice!


  2. Judy Westergard November 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    I’m a painter not a writer, but “The Bane of Your Resistance” and “The Writer’s Block” apply art as they do to writing. In answer to the question, “Why do you tell yourself you can’t (paint)?” — it’s not so much that I can’t as it is that I don’t…at least not as much as I should if I’m ever to get better — and that’s because I see how much better others are. I know that it’s that ol’ bugaboo Comparison that gets in my way, but I’ll be darned if I know how to boot him out of my life!


    • rosannebane November 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Hi Judy, You’re absolutely right about resistance showing up in whatever art form we pursue. Thanks for pointing out how comparison gets in the way. I’ll address that in an upcoming post. BTW, the 15 Magic Minutes works just as well for painting as it does for writing…



  1. Don’t Know How to Start Writing? Don’t Let That Stop You! | The Bane of Your Resistance - November 26, 2013

    […] Sometimes resistance is invisible because it disguises itself: “I’m not blocked, I just don’t know what to write about.” […]


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