Episode 039 – Overcoming Writing Resistance

Ever felt like your own worst enemy sits between you and the page? You’re not alone. In our latest episode, we tackle the all-too-familiar challenge of writing resistance. It’s real, it’s tough, but most importantly—it’s conquerable.

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Bright infographic summarising article text. Text reads:
Identify Resistance: Procrastination and self-doubt are common resistance signs.
Explore Causes: Delve into fears and perfectionism as underlying reasons for resistance.
Redefine Success: Shift perspective on failure and success to mitigate fear.
Embrace Imperfection: Start with "bad" sentences and focus on writing effort.
Process Past Critiques: Reflect on and heal from previous criticisms or setbacks.
Reignite Passion: Pursue joyous, no-pressure writing to diminish resistance.

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Welcome to Writer Roadmap, the podcast for writers seeking inspiration, guidance, and support on their creative journey. I’m Holly Lyne, and today we’re tackling a challenge every writer faces at some point: resistance to writing.

Whether it’s a fleeting hesitation or a formidable block, resistance can feel like an insurmountable wall between us and our creative expression. But don’t worry, we’re here to climb that wall together, uncover the roots of our resistance, and discover strategies to overcome it. Let’s embark on this journey with optimism, and transform our writing resistance into resilience.

Identifying Resistance

Resistance comes in many forms – procrastination, distraction, self-doubt, or even the sudden urge to clean your entire house instead of writing that next chapter. On the surface, these might seem like personal failings or a lack of discipline, but they’re actually common experiences shared by writers across the globe. Recognizing that you’re not alone in this struggle is the first step towards overcoming it. It’s not necessarily the same as writers block, which we covered in episode 32. You may know what you need to write next, you just can’t quite make yourself sit down and do it.

Understanding the Deeper Reasons

But why do we experience resistance? At its core, resistance is often rooted in fear – fear of failure, fear of judgement, or even fear of success. It might be tied to perfectionism, where the pressure to produce something extraordinary stifles our ability to produce anything at all. For some, resistance stems from a deeper place of vulnerability; putting our thoughts and stories out there can feel like exposing parts of our soul. We may also be jumping ahead in the process and worrying about the next steps in publishing or marketing the book. That can definitely halt me in my tracks! Understanding these underlying causes is crucial because it allows us to address the real issues, rather than just battling the symptoms.

Solutions to Overcome Resistance

While I could give you a bullet list of easy actions to get you back in the chair and typing words, today, I want to guide you towards doing the deeper work of overcoming the root cause of your resistance.

Address the Fear: Fear of failure or judgement can paralyse writers. To combat this, I encourage you to redefine your view of success and failure. Perhaps, success is simply finishing your first book. Rather than winning awards. Every writing attempt, regardless of the outcome, is a step towards growth. Mindfulness practices can help us to sit with our fear without letting it control our actions. I encourage you to gradually share pieces of writing with trusted peers, such as in The Write Place, which has a separate space for writers to share their work for feedback.

Combating Perfectionism: Many writers struggle with the need for their work to be perfect on the first try. One strategy is to intentionally write a “bad” first sentence or paragraph at each writing session, breaking the ice and setting a tone where imperfection is not just allowed but embraced. Another approach is to set process-oriented goals (e.g., “I will write for 30 minutes”) instead of product-oriented goals (“I will write a perfect first draft”), shifting the focus from outcome to effort. Not all of us can write a messy first draft, it’s incredibly personality-dependent, so that may not be the right advice for you. But even if you are someone who needs to write a clean first draft in order to finish at all, it can help to allow yourself to start a writing session knowing that your first paragraph will need a tidy-up later.

Healing from Past Critiques or Failures: Writers often carry the weight of past criticisms or perceived failures, which can feed into resistance. Reflective journalling about these experiences, focusing on the lessons learned rather than the pain caused can help. At times of creative struggle, I’ve found writing Morning Pages beneficial. The principle, as described by Julia Cameron in The Artists Way, Morning Pages is the practice of free-writing for three pages with no agenda or expectations. Just write whatever comes to mind. It can be an opportunity to purge our darker thoughts, our doubts and fears and our resistance to writing. Professional help, like therapy, can also be beneficial in processing and moving beyond deep-seated creative wounds. So if you need to seek that help, please do so.

Building Creative Confidence: Lack of belief in one’s abilities can be a significant barrier. I encourage you to compile a “brag book” of positive feedback, successful projects, and personal writing milestones to revisit when doubt creeps in. Engaging in regular, small acts of creativity outside of writing can also boost overall creative confidence. Very often, we enjoy more than one avenue of creativity. Even if you’ve never explored before, you can try your hand at sketching, lettering, collage, music or expressive dance! Trying something new can unblock our writing in surprising ways.

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Writing: Sometimes, resistance stems from viewing writing as a chore or obligation rather than a passion or outlet. Reconnect with the joy of storytelling by engaging in writing exercises purely for fun, with no intention of sharing or publishing the results. Writing letters to your future or past self about your writing journey can also help reignite the spark of why you started writing in the first place. Or create fun side-quests for your characters, write back stories, write letters in their voice to a loved one or an enemy. One little exercise I tried recently was to write a food and drink menu for a pub in my fantasy setting! I had so much fun doing it and it filled me with excitement for my world and story.


Resistance to writing is a common challenge, but it’s not an insurmountable one. By understanding the root causes of our resistance and applying practical strategies to address them, we can move from a place of stagnation to one of flow. It’s OK to use a little procrastination to lead us around this resistance as long as it does result in us coming back to the manuscript. Sometimes, our resistance is caused by the need to rest and recharge, to refill the creative well. So go do that and try writing again the next day. If the resistance continues, then do the deep work and seek the help of a coach to help you to find the best way to overcome it. That’s something I can help with, so if you’d like to work with me, head to writerroadmap.com/coaching for details of my coaching packages.

Remember, every writer’s journey includes moments of doubt and hesitation, but it’s our resilience and commitment to our craft that define us. So, let’s face our resistance with courage, transform it into strength, and continue on our creative path with renewed energy and purpose.

If you’ve found particular strategies effective in overcoming your resistance to writing, I’d love to hear about them. Share your insights with our community, and let’s support each other in our collective journey towards creative fulfilment.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Writer Roadmap, and share this episode with someone who might need a little push to overcome their writing resistance. Until next time, keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep navigating the rich landscape of your imagination.

Writer Roadmap intro and outro music used under license from Pixabay. Music track “Salangseuleoun” was Created by “Dayfox”.

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