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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.

Five Reasons to Thank Your Resistance to Writing

writer-passionHow could you possibly be grateful for feeling resistance to your writing?

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.

bored-canstockphoto5089712-2If there wasn’t some risk, some challenge, some puzzle to solve, you’d be bored with your writing. Bored writer = boring writing = bored readers who just disappear.

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

kites-against-wind-resistance-makes-you-strongerThe only way to get a stronger body is to challenge your body just slightly past your limits, then rest. The muscles that are damaged by exercise grow stronger when they repair themselves.

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.

39205105 - (sarcoramphus papa) king vulture in flightResistance is like a vulture. Most 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?


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6 Comments on “Five Reasons to Thank Your Resistance to Writing”

  1. Theresa November 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    Morning 🙂

    Would you please do more postings on the mental/attitude side of writing?

    I have a chaotic, stressful (I guess) life. It’s not going to change. I struggle with time to write; I get prepared, relax, and then instead of getting words on paper, I’m snoring.

    I study productivity techniques, writing and general, and try to implement them, but my word counts are still zero to abysmal.
    One of the best techniques is accountability. I must create my own accountability, my writing friends aren’t interested in that aspect. I have made several
    attempts, but they’ve fizzled out.

    I realize that’s because I’ve let them do so. But I don’t know how to keep the nudging of yes-this-is-embarassing-that-you’re-posting-0-or-very-few-cout-but-you-will-do-better-tomorrow’s-a-new-chance/day from becoming the crippling embarassment I use to stop trying?

    i know it’s resistance. But it scares me because I feel occasionally that I’m sliding towards indifference because I’m not using what talent I have.



    • rosannebane December 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

      Hi Theresa,
      Kudos on your persistence in the face of resistance! It’s takes so much courage to keep returning to your heart’s desire when it feels like you’re not making progress the way you should. My first recommendation is that you read the posts on when word counts are effective measures and when they aren’t. (https://baneofyourresistance.com/2011/08/24/word-counts-work-in-1-out-of-6-stages/ and https://baneofyourresistance.com/2011/08/25/word-counts-work-in-1-out-of-6-stages-part-2/)
      You could very well be in one of the stages where word counts are irrelevant and thinking you SHOULD be writing x number of words a day will only frustrate you.
      There was a time when I struggled with the research stage (Stage 2 Saturation) and wanted to jump over that stage. It was like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together with only 30% of the pieces.
      I suggest you focus on tracking the time you invest in your writing (as long as you’re doing something related to a writing project, it counts). Let me know how that works for you.
      Also, please let me know if you have specific questions about the mental/attitude side of writing and I do my best to write a post on that.
      Keep showing up! I can tell you’re a writer because you’ve been willing to wrestle with it; now let’s find ways to make it easier to do what you love.


  2. Jan Bulawan November 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    Aloha Rosanne,

    I want to say Thank You for helping me push past my resistance to finish a short story. Small step, but I won, and want to win again. Onward!

    I am Thankful for your blog and all your words of wisdom. You hold me up so I can take wing.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    Jan B.


    Liked by 1 person

    • rosannebane November 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

      Aloha Jan B.
      Thank you for your message — you brightened my day when I read it the first time and now again as I’m responding to comments. Holding writers so they can take wing is a big part of my mission.
      And let me also say that you are the one doing the work — the one who shows up and pushes through resistance. Congratulations on finishing your short story — I suspect it will be one of many. You definitely won! I’m delighted to hear you celebrate this success.
      We’re both moving onward. Cheers!



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