This is an update of an original post from 2018.
You can spend a lot of time teaching yourself to resist Resistance, to get your ass in the chair, to be productive.
It’s a never-ending challenge.
There is a flip side, though. I’m looking at it right now.
If you’re following my work logs, you know that this week I’m on the mattresses, writing (well, plotting, actually) for all I’m worth, trying to catch up because Resistance got the better of me for a while and now I’m a week behind.
It’s going great. I have a cast of thousands, a series arc that stretches over 80 years, and multiple storylines to juggle. (Series are incredible time sinks at the front end!)
I’m building characters and narrowing down my focus to the plot for the book itself.
Then noon came, and I needed to break off and do mundane stuff like write blog posts, check bank accounts, reply to reader emails–oh, and eating might be an idea…
There’s a hidden danger in beating Resistance.
Especially when it comes to creative work, the Muse can grab you and not want to let go.
There are times when you should absolutely let the Muse have her way. If you have the time, and all your Upper Right Quadrant tasks have been taken care of, or if you can offload them with a clear conscious, then go for it. Enjoy the flow. Enjoy the productivity.
However, there are times when it’s absolutely necessary to rein in the impulse to keep going.
That’s what happened to me, only a few moments ago.
As I looked at my blog schedule, the tiny thought popped up (it’s always tiny to begin); “I can do that post tomorrow, just before it’s due to go live. It would be much more fun to spend the day with the book, instead.”
I actually managed to identify what I was doing and shut down the train of thought before it got out of hand and became a siren song.
Get the less thrilling stuff done, too.
If you have already ditched all the Important-Not-Urgent tasks at least once, then you need to address them now. Don’t put them off again.
If you’ve been giving everything a lick-and-a-promise for a while, it is imperative you spend some time and attention upon them now. If you don’t, catching up later will be a major chore and your future self will not thank you.
I didn’t do anything BUT plotting, yesterday. Although, to be fair, I wrote two days’ worth of blog posts the day before just to give myself a full day. However, the temptation was to do the same thing today because the book is going so well.
As you are reading this post, I can happily point to that as evidence that I didn’t give in to the temptation.
When I’ve done this post and cleared up the rest of the must-do’s (which are all upper right quadrant stuff and don’t look like must-do’s to anyone else), I’ll get back to the book and be doubly pleased to sink back into the fog.
Two benefits to being THIS anal.
- If your Muse has got you truly spellbound, then there’s a good chance that apart from your fingers, you haven’t moved for a few hours. Forcing yourself to break off and do something else for a while will help refresh your thoughts and energize you (especially if the other stuff includes eating, moving, sleeping, etc). When you get back to the book, the thoughts will flow better and your creativity be topped up. You’ll also write without distractions, because everything’s taken care of. Tiredness can creep up on you and impact the quality of your writing well before you become aware of it.
- The “other stuff” probably isn’t as boring as you think. It just looks like a pain in the ass when you’re contemplating having to stop working on your book to deal with it. If you tackle it properly, you’ll likely find yourself just as engaged with the work as you were writing the book.
If You Let This Type of Resistance Win…
Eschewing necessary support work in favour of writing the book would have to be one of the most proactive and creative forms of Resistance. It is alluring. It is so very easy to sell yourself on it, too, because, well, you’re writing.
The indie fiction writer’s workload, though, includes a lot of other work that, while secondary to writing, can have severe consequences if ignored for too long.
This is another form of balance that you’ll spend your entire creative career juggling. It’s the flip side to goofing off and just as deadly.