Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aren't We There Yet?

HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING (from his 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction."

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

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I learned these rules by hanging out on the Writer’s Digest forum.  I believe they are the wisest of advice for writers, and I have always done very well following them, up until now.  For some reason, I am having trouble finishing the first draft of my novel.  I am within five-thousand words of typing those magic words “the end.”  Five-thousand words!  It’s not writer’s block.  I totally know what needs to happen.  I just don’t seem to have the desire to write it down.  I am procrastinating, and I don’t know why.

A week or so ago I downloaded the War of Art by Shawn Coyne and Stephen Pressfield onto my Nook.  It’s short, very easy to read, and very wise, as well.  I think I found my answer to my procrastination issue within the electronic pages, in a chapter labeled “Resistance is Most Powerful at the Finish Line.”  If you want to know what Resistance is, I recommend you get the book and read it, but my understanding of Resistance is that it is the thing that holds us back from achieving that which we are called to be.  Mr. Pressfield states “The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.  At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it.  It hits the panic button.  It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.”

Resistance for me says “You can write it tomorrow.  You don’t have to be in any hurry.   Stop being so neurotic about finishing, it probably isn’t good enough anyway.  It’s a first novel, for God’s sake.”  And I slowly lose my momentum, like a car that gets a flat tire and flops to a stop on the side of the road.

I know I have to finish this novel.  I am not a writer if I don’t.  I am just someone who wrote most of a novel.  And there is no remedy, except to “Just Do It.”  Nike really got it right.  No therapy, no conversation, no reading, no inspiration is going to get me going.  I have to just do it.  Grit my teeth, get my butt in my new office chair, log on and do it.

The thing is, I know that once I do, it is all so easy. I can relax, and let my imagination take me by the hand and lead me down the creative pathway to the finish line.  What perplexes me is that I make it so hard on myself to get to that point.  How silly to fight against such a positive experience.  The fight is what makes me think Steven Pressfield is right.  Resistance is only as big as we make it out to be.  Every day we have to take up the fight to be more and to achieve more than the last day.  No excuses, no procrastination, no fear allowed.  Just do it.


  1. I know that fear of finishing a novel. In fact I know it very well. For me,the fear resides in what will happen in the next step. From first draft to the next draft and final draft until I feel the book is finished, I try to remain hopeful the market will be receptive to my new offering. It's the unknown that makes me drag my feet. Will this be another novel that sits gathering dust on my jump drive, or will it find a home? One thing is for sure; you never know until you send your orphan out into the world whether it will find a home. It's hard, but we've got to get a grip on our fears and just finish the manuscript and send it off when we deem it ready. The rest is up to the universe, really. The great unknown...

  2. Fear has always been a big resistance-maker in me. I think you are right, the unknown makes it really easy to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. You're a great role-model for just getting it out there, though! Thanks so much for the great comment.

  3. You have some fantastic advice here and an awesome blog! :D I'm a new follower.

  4. Thanks, Nick, both for following and for the compliment. Welcome to Motivation for Creation!


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