1. Resistance Reveals Your Passion
A student in my Writer’s Resistance class confessed “I thought I must really not want to be a writer since I’m not writing.” I reassured her that her resistance was a sign that she did want to write. If she didn’t want to write, she wouldn’t be in class. If she didn’t want to write, she wouldn’t feel less resistant, she’d feel indifferent.
We don’t have resistance to things we’re not interested in.
For example, I have no resistance around climbing Mt. Everest. I’m not torn between wanting to climb Everest and not being able to; I just don’t care. I climbed Tablerock Mountain in North Carolina when I was a 16-year-old participant at Outward Bound. I continued rock climbing for a couple of years after that because I worked at a store that sold rock-climbing and mountaineering equipment and my mentor and co-workers all climbed. Then I realized I didn’t really like heights and decided not to do it anymore. I have no regrets because I have no interest.
No resistance means no passion.
2. Resistance Keeps You Interested — and Interesting
We experience resistance when the limbic system (aka emotional brain) recognizes a potential threat. Creative risk will trigger resistance, but creative risk is essential to creative reward.
You can easily solve a jigsaw puzzle designed for a 5-year-old, but who cares? The degree of difficulty in solving the creative puzzle determines the degree of satisfaction in figuring out how it all fits together. Resistance is an essential part of creative fulfillment.
3. Resistance Stores Energy
When you feel resistance to writing, you pour energy into avoiding your writing. Which can seem like a waste. It’s not.
As soon as you learn how to respond to your resistance, there is a tremendous release of energy. This stored energy can propel you to new heights or in new directions and sustain your writing for days, even weeks.
4. Resistance Makes You Stronger
The only way to get stronger as a writer is to challenge yourself to write just slightly past your limits, then let the writing rest for a while, maybe get a little feedback (just make sure it’s the right kind of feedback) and then “repair” the writing.
What do you feel before and as you write past your limits? Resistance, of course.
5. Resistance Is Natural
Resistance is normal. Every writer experiences resistance at some time. What matters is not whether you experience resistance (you will); it’s what you do with your resistance. You’re never going to be free of resistance (unless you’re writing the equivalent of a jigsaw puzzle for a 5-year-old), so embrace resistance as a natural part of your writing life.
Resistance is like a vulture. Vultures aren’t pretty, but they are an essential player in the ecosystem. They deserve a place in the natural world just like all the other birds. You’ll never want a pet vulture, but when you learn to appreciate their purpose, you can see a kind of strength, grace and beauty in them.
Likewise, you probably won’t jump up and down for joy the next time you feel writer’s resistance, but you can learn to appreciate its purpose and learn to respond to it with your own strength, grace and beauty.
What gifts has resistance given you?