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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.

500 Days of Not Writing and How to Start Again: Guest Post by Joel D Canfield

When I retired as a creativity coach, I started looking for alternatives. So I am particularly pleased to tell you about a new resource offered by Joel D Canfield. You may remember Joel from previous guest posts, his blog SomedayBox.com or one of his 18 books.

Joel created a forum to help writers and artists deal with resistance. I’ll let him tell you about it.


Exactly 953 days ago I started my 6th novel. One day of frantic brain dump, a few weeks of plotting and planning, then writing like mad. Research, plot adjustments, pondering, and more writing like mad.

In the middle of the rush, I crashed.

Flashback to Success

Back on November 11th of 2011 I released 6 business books simultaneously. Then, I switched to fiction. Between 2014 and 2016 I followed up my first Irish adventure novel with a second, then started another series, and a third. Three novels in three years.

It was like driving a Lamborghini steamroller.

Until I got some professional advice.

Flashback to the Opposite of Success

A respected local writing coach offered to critique my writing. After reading the unedited draft of my 5th novel, they praised my ability to write but closed with “This story is beneath you.”

Crash and Aftermath

I reconsidered my abilities.

I looked into different genres I might be better at.

I considered giving up novels and sticking to songwriting.

I talked myself into finishing the book and published it.

I tried to talk myself into finishing the time travel fantasy I’d already started. Made progress in fits and starts, then ground to a halt.

I re-read every motivational book for writers I owned and more from the library.

I got feedback on my fiction writing in general and specifically about the half-draft of the time travel fantasy (universally overwhelmingly positive; “Don’t you DARE not finish this book!” was one comment.)

I sat staring out the window a lot.

But I didn’t write.

I couldn’t.

It’s Not Just Me and You

“I was ashamed. I have spent a good many years since — too many, I think — being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who as ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent.

“. . . in my heart I stayed ashamed. I kept hearing Miss Hisler asking why I wanted to waste my talent, why I wanted to waste my time, why I wanted to write junk.”

Who was this loser?

Stephen King. Stephen 350 million sold King.

This is a quote from his On Writing which, although not precisely instructional, is the most inspiring book I’ve read when it comes to staying the course as a writer.

This is the quote that gave me my writing life back.

I mulled it over for a week, all day, every day.

If Stephen King could be told his work was “beneath him” and even more, to this day feel shame about it and still write, so could I.

What’s a Writer to Do?

My book took over 900 days, but more than 60% of that time was spent avoiding writing as hard as I could. I know what it’s like to want, desperately, to write, but not be able to.

We cannot defeat, once for all time, Resistance. It’s part of our mental and emotional makeup. What we can do is make it irrelevant. Like the bully at school, resistance will show up every day. But we don’t have to keep giving it our lunch money.

The tools to make Resistance irrelevant are both emotional and practical. Because it is an emotional condition we can’t control, we need a two-pronged approach: coping mechanisms for the emotional aspects, and practical processes to address the more cerebral aspects.

I’ll share a secret: though I’m a giant fan of Pressfield’s The War of Art for the emotional aspects, nothing comes close to Rosanne’s Around the Writer’s Block for a practical brain-science approach. I re-read it regularly, either all in a piece, or bits here and there to address my writing practice challenge-du-jour.

Secret Part II: much of what I use in my Resistance coaching, I learned from Around the Writer’s Block. If you can read it and apply it, you’re well on your way.

Easier said than done, I know.

Being a Writer Is Hard — Good Thing You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

Too many writers are facing the emotional struggle to write without the support they need. After years of writing about it, I’ve created a forum to help writers and artists deal with writer’s Resistance.

It’s not a collective moan-fest. It’s a guided learning environment, a community of writers making a safe place for the “you’re not alone” emotional support you need. It includes practical and actionable tools and processes to get you writing and keep you writing.

Membership is $5 per month or only $25 for the whole year. Questions? Comments? Shout ’em out below and I’ll answer every one.

Note from Rosanne: $25 is an amazing value! Don’t let your Saboteur tell you you’re not worth $25 — and it’s a sure thing your Saboteur will NOT want you to get this kind of support at any price.

Joel D Canfield has written 18 books, nearly 200 songs, and a million words in blog posts over the past 20 years. When he’s not writing novels and songs he helps authors get their books out of the ‘someday’ box by showing them how to start writing and keep writing. Read more at Someday Box and join the AntiResistance Resistance and see how he can help you.

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5 Comments on “500 Days of Not Writing and How to Start Again: Guest Post by Joel D Canfield”

  1. Tom Bentley June 22, 2018 at 4:54 pm #

    Make that Around the Writer’s Block. Freudian slip of the keyboard.


  2. Tom Bentley June 22, 2018 at 4:53 pm #

    Good stuff Joel, though there’s no mention of pancakes. I wasn’t aware of Behind the Writer’s Block; I’ll have to take a look. I hope the forum is a zinging success!


  3. Joel D Canfield June 22, 2018 at 8:44 am #

    Thanks for letting me mind the shop today, Rosanne.


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