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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.

Train Yourself to Resist Resistance


You think you have distractions?

No matter how much or how long you’ve been resisting your writing, how much you procrastinate, postpone, distract yourself, or chase your own tail in pursuit of perfection, two simple tricks will change everything.

Well-trained dogs respond to these commands and you can train your brain to respond, too. Yes, I know people are more complex than dogs, but don’t worry, despite our complexity we can learn these simple tricks, too.

Sit-Stay

To a dog, Sit-Stay means “Put your butt where I tell you, keep your head up and remain in that position until you hear the release word.” (‘Okay,’ ‘free’ and ‘release’ are commonly used.)

For a writer, Sit-Stay means “Put your butt in your writing chair, keep your head up and your mind open, and remain there for a specified period of time.” (Fifteen Magic Minutes, 10 minutes, or even 2 minutes – you choose before you put yourself in the Sit-Stay.)

Training the Sit-Stay

To teach a dog to Sit-Stay, you put a treat in front of and just above her nose and slowly raise your hand up and back. The dog’s instinct is to follow the treat with her nose, so her head naturally goes up and back, which causes her to lower her butt.

When the dog’s butt touches the ground, she’s given the treat and the release word. Gradually, the interval between the butt touching the ground and the treat and release increases. (For my fellow dog-handlers, yes there are more nuances to this, but I’m pretty sure this is enough info for the metaphor to work.)

To teach yourself to Sit-Stay, select a small reward like a special cup of coffee, tea or cocoa; one M&M or similarly sized piece of candy; or a dollar in quarters. Put the treat in your workspace and give yourself the first sip, taste or quarter when your butt hits your chair.

Refining the Sit-Stay

It doesn’t matter what you do during the Sit-Stay as long as your butt stays in the chair and you don’t do anything that isn’t related to your writing project. No checking your email, no social media, no computer solitaire. No chasing the cat.

You can use a writing prompt, do some research, freewrite, draft, draw a map or character sketch related to your writing project.

You can even sit and stare into space, as long as you stay until the pre-determined time has elapsed. Believe me, your capacity to truly do nothing and without distracting yourself is limited. It won’t be long before you’re thinking about the writing, which causes you to pick a pencil and start doodling, which easily slips into freewriting or clustering…

If you think about anything else, just notice that and bring your attention back to your writing or to the nothing you’re busy doing. If you truly do nothing and don’t think about anything, congratulations! You’ve just taught yourself how to meditate during your Sit-Stay.

Your brain will adapt. You’ll create new neural pathways to support the Sit-Stay. It won’t be long before you’re almost as good as a German Shepherd or even a Border Collie.

But I won’t lie to you, the Sit-Stay is easier and more effective when you combine it with the second command, which I’ll give you in the next post. Until then, “Sit-Stay!” with your writing.

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3 Comments on “Train Yourself to Resist Resistance”

  1. Joel D Canfield May 5, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    This is a far more refined and meaningful version of a process I used to give my coaching clients. Now I think I’ll just use it on myself. (Re-reading your book right now so these posts are a timely boost.)

    Like

    • rosannebane May 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

      Thanks Joel! I’m gratified you’re reading my book again.

      Like

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  1. Train Yourself to Resist Resistance: Second Trick | Bane of Your Resistance - May 11, 2017

    […] the previous post, I promised that you can train your brain to follow two simple commands that will transform your […]

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