The Writer’s Resistance by Catharine Bramkamp
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “The Writer’s Resistance.” Enjoy!
If you’ve read about resistance, you know intellectually that all it takes to overcome your resistance to starting, continuing or finishing a project is
- Stronger will power and
- A better plan.
And with that in mind, we can now include inspirational goals to the poster listing other modern myths like the solo genius, and if only we had better self-control we wouldn’t succumb to all the cheap delicious and addictive foods clustered around every freeway exit in the county.
Like those myths, the idea that your resistance is all on you is wrong.
Our resistance is a symptom of the systemic cultural insistence that we spend all day, every day in the single minded pursuit of our made up, arbitrary goals.
What’s causing you pain, despair and a stomach ache isn’t the novel, it’s the looming all or nothing goal of becoming a best-selling author by the time you’re 30.
That or one too many Cheesy Gordita Crunches.
A Dream With a Deadline
If you’ve ever dipped your tiny delicate foot into the corporate or retail business world, you are familiar with corporate goals.
Big goals, big hairy goals (I worked in sales), large lettered acronyms spelling out – GOALS.
We were admonished to shoot for the moon (and if you fail, land among the stars, which isn’t all that scientific a metaphor, but hey, it was sales).
It begins with you.
A goal is a dream with a deadline,
Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.
The I in GOALS
Let’s walk the idea of goals back a bit.
In the olden days people worked 70-hour weeks with a bonus round of fighting through commute traffic twice a day.
The reward was mandatory company seminars on goal setting and a yearly review with suggestions like, since you sold 50 widgets this year, how about selling 100 next year?
Let’s make that your stretch goal.
Goals were always specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
But did you know that the I in GOALS stands for Impossible?
And what do those stretch goals look like today?
- Shower – Stretch goal
- Lipstick in time for the next Zoom call – Stretch goal
- Vegetable included in the dinner – Stretch goal
- Leave the house – Stretch goal
But, even if we’ve dialed back goals and expectations in our own lives, those ridiculously high goals, that assumption that we WANT to focus on huge, hairy, massive goals and love every grinding minute it takes to reach them, still lingers.
What we have yet to acknowledge is those goals can be the very cause of our resistance.
Suddenly, we don’t want to shoot for the moon, we don’t even have the energy to climb into the rocket.
Skip the Goal
To overcome the kind of resistance engendered by relentless goal setting, skip the goal.
What? That doesn’t sound very smart.
Yet it is.
Create a sloppy, inadequate outline for your novel.
Every day, write up 500 words describing a scene mentioned in that outline.
They do not need to be good or interesting or perfect words, just write 500 of them.
Your only focus is to create a writing practice. Write today, write tomorrow, write every day this month.
It’s not about the what of a goal, but the why of being a writer. Just to write.
Practice writing for long enough, you’ll forget to resist the work. Sneak up on your novel in quiet, 500 word steps.
And after a few months you will surprise yourself with a pretty decent draft. Without even trying, you did build the rocket.
And after another month or so, you’ll be ready to shoot for the moon.
The author experienced a great deal of resistance before finishing this blog.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, former co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back. She delights in inspiring her readers.