On Resistance and Connecting to Your Inner Advisors
By Christine Carron
We live in a culture that values doing, accomplishing, taking action. On the writerly adventure, leaning into that cultural norm is a good thing. You have to take action—a whole lot of action—as a writer, or your literary dreams will never amount to anything. Coulda . . . Shoulda . . . Didn’t.
Sometimes, though, that intensive doing culture can trip us up. In particular, when we’re facing the big bad bogeyman of Resistance. Because if there were a slogan for the cultural milieu we’re all swimming in, it is Nike’s Just do it. And in a Just do it world, resistance is verboten.
So when resistance does come up related to our writing (or any aspect of our writerly adventure,) and we all know it does, it often comes with a whole lot of negative, judgmental charge. Shameful. Victimy. If you just wanted it enough, you would get over yourself, and get the writing done. That’s what a real writer would do.
To avoid that harshness, we might rush to take action. Lots of actions. Action-o-rama. Just so we can say we’re doing something. Doesn’t matter if it’s actually helping, or really moving our work forward thoughtfully. Pure doing for doing's sake.
Alternatively, even with all the harshness, we still may not be able to find a path through the resistance. Which could make the hi-def din of negativity amp up even more.
Stop Reacting, Start Responding
A common project management philosophy is: Slow down to speed up. What that means is if you take time to pause for a little planning, reflecting, considering, etc., instead of just jumping into action, it is much more likely that your next action(s) will be smarter, more efficient, and more effective.
For example, if I’m called into work with a corporate team, and they are stressed, tetchy, and rushing around doing tasks without rhyme, reason or purposeful prioritization, the first thing I’m going to do is stop them from doing.
Have them step back, reassess, so that we can figure out how they can do smarter.
We writers can apply that same principle when we are stuck in either the doing for doing’s sake or the negativity pile-on. It will help move us from reacting to our resistance into thoughtfully and smartly responding to it.
The first step, of course, is simply to catch yourself. Acknowledge that you are in one of these polarized reaction modes to your resistance. No harm. No foul. Happens to the best of us.
Then, in the space you create by acknowledging what is happening, a whole new vista of possibilities opens to you. That’s when the slow down to speed up mischief can begin.
Slowing down might mean journaling to get to the deeper root of your resistance. It might be taking care of some other life priority that really does need attention first. It could be scheduling a call with your therapist. Or asking your writerly peeps for ideas and support.
It also could mean trying out new ways to play with your resistance. That’s what a fabulous group of writers and I did this past weekend, when I facilitated the Daily Gathers* at GrubStreet’s Muse & the Marketplace conference. As part of one of the Gathers, I led a visualization designed to help writers plug into their inner wisdom so that they could get new, self-led options for handling their resistance.
Due to the positive response, I wanted to make the visualization available here for you. Feel free to give it a go and decide if you want to add it to your Writerly Resistance Response Toolkit.
The Inner Advisors Visualization
*****NOTE*****: The visualization will be more powerful for you if, the first time through, you do it instead of just listening to it. So if you are up for a little visualization adventure, then:
- Get a pen and your journal/paper.
- Go somewhere where you can sit comfortably without distractions for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The visualization itself is ~9 minutes long, but give yourself some extra time for reflection and journaling.
- CLICK HERE to listen to the visualization.
With that, I leave you this week. Leave you in the competent, supportive and wise hands of your own Inner Advisors. Have fun!
* A Gather is part of Goodjelly's Ground, Gather, Grow framework designed to help writers get more lasting value out of their conference and workshop investments.
The Goodjelly Prompts of the Week
- Post-in-Action Prompt: Do the Inner Advisors visualization.
- Scene Prompt: Write a scene where your character struggles with resistance and reacts with either an action-o-rama or a negative talk pile-on.
- Journaling Prompt: List out all the strategies and techniques you currently have in your Writerly Resistance Response Toolkit. And then really own your toolkit. Post that list somewhere in your writing space so you see it regularly. Share it with your writerly peeps. Take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and tag us @leagueofgoodjelly. Why? Because the more you interact with your list, the more likely it will come to mind when you’re in a reactionary twirl of resistance.
- Connection Prompt: Connect with your writerly peeps and discuss if they have any particular strategies or tactics that they use to thoughtfully respond to resistance.