Episode 37: Today we’re talking about resistance to writing, and how it can so easily disguise itself as productivity. Sadly, it’s also our podcast farewell…
Welcome back to the Inside Creative Writing Podcast! My name is Brad Reed and I want to thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with me today to talk about writing. Today is not your typical episode–we’re not going to be getting into WiseWords and Weekly Challenges and all that–because today is, I’m sad to announce, the last episode of the Inside Creative Writing podcast… at least for the foreseeable future. Before I get into the reasons why, I want to take a moment to thank you–the listeners and the fans of the show–for being so great and so supportive. Especially those of you who joined the Patreon team. It’s one thing to listen, it’s a whole different level of support to use some of your hard-earned money to show us that you valued the show. It’s thanks to all of you that pulling the plug on the podcast is so difficult to do.
I want to talk about resistance in our final few moments together. Much of what I’m going to talk about today comes from a great book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. You should really pick up a copy if you’ve never read it. I’ll have a link in the show notes. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it, but its insights and lessons stick with me to this day. The basic premise of the book is that art–any kind of art–is a kind of war against resistance. And this resistance can take a huge number of forms. We recognize it easily when it comes in the form of the full-time job that robs us of our time and energy to write. We recognize it when it’s the writer’s block that freezes our progress. But resistance is all around us, at all times. It is pernicious, constant, and often invisible until we look for it really, really closely. The most damaging form of resistance, at least for me, is the resistance that comes disguised as something productive and even helpful. Let me give you an example. Twitter is a great place to meet other writers, to network, and to find inspiration and motivation to sit down and write. I’ve found some great friends and writing role models on Twitter. Yes, there are benefits to joining the writing community on Twitter. But, if you take a step back, it becomes clear that it is, essentially, a form of resistance. Something to get in the way of you putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and making words happen. We can easily convince ourselves that our time on Twitter or other social media is productive and even furthering our writing careers–and it may actually be to some extent–but most of it is disguised resistance keeping you from creating your art. Now, does that mean I’m swearing off Twitter? No. But I’m trying to be a lot more intentional about how, when, and why I use it. I recognize it as a form of resistance and I don’t give in to it, at least not to the level I once did. Another disguised form of resistance can actually be reading about (and listening to podcasts about) writing. Do they improve your craft? Certainly! Are they an important way to stay motivated and growing in your skills? For sure. But can they become a method of resistance to keep you from creating your art? Absolutely they can. So, does that mean I’m swearing off reading books about writing and listening to great writing podcasts? No, but I’m always leery and watching for when the scales tip from providing a benefit to simply distracting me from my writing.
And that brings us to the main reason I’ve made the decision to discontinue this podcast… at least for the time being. I love doing it. I really believe it helps people improve their craft and is a worthwhile use of my time. But, at the end of the day, is it the highest use of my time? Is it a form of resistance? And more and more it’s become obvious to me that it has tipped the scales from being beneficial to being a distracting form of resistance. For the last few episodes, I’ve kept track of the time I’ve spent writing, recording, producing, and distributing the podcast and it’s eclipsed the time I’ve spent actually writing. I toyed with the idea of simplifying the format, streamlining the production, and realized that I was just spending even more time NOT writing by spending time trying to figure out how to spend more time writing.
I can’t say that I’m happy about this decision, and if the email and notes I’ve received from you over the time of this podcast are any indication, you won’t be happy about it either. But that’s the thing about overcoming resistance. It’s almost never a fair fight. If my main resistance was either writing or doing the dishes, the writing would win every time. No contest. But resistance is smart. Resistance is effective. Resistance is really fucking good at what it does. So it comes disguised as things that look smart, enjoyable, productive, and worthwhile. For me, it comes in the form of the hours of time and creative energy that goes into this podcast instead of into my writing.
I hope you’ll understand where I’m at on this. And, honestly, I hope you’ll make it an opportunity to look at your own writing life and see where resistance has clawed its way into your schedule and priorities. I’ll guarantee it’s there. It’s a lifelong battle–that’s why Pressfield calls it “the war of art”–to overcome it.
Having said all this, I’m an educator at heart. I have a compulsion to teach, to share insights and discoveries with people who can use them. I can’t not do it. So I’m going to be channeling these efforts in a couple of directions without the podcast. First of all, into my classes that I teach in-person. They deserve the best of what I have to give. But also into the weekly newsletter I launched a few weeks ago. Yes, it’s a different format, not nearly so intimate and flexible, but still an opportunity to stay connected with you and share what I’m excited about when it comes to writing.
I hope you’ll subscribe to it by going to BradReedWrites.com. I can also still envision doing the occasional video or audio recording that I’ll release through the website and announce in the newsletter, but it can’t be anything like the weekly commitment I made with the podcast. Besides, there are so many incredible podcasts out there now, and I’ll be sharing some of those recommendations through the newsletter as well.
So, with that, we’re going to wrap it up for this week, and that’s going to wrap it up for the Inside Creative Writing podcast.
I hope you’ll remember that the best way to improve your craft is by writing. That’s what I’m off to go do, and I hope you’re off to do the same. Let’s get some words on paper and I hope we can meet up on Twitter, through my newsletter, and through the website at BradReedWrites.com
Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening. It’s been my honor to have spent this time with you.