Resisting Resistance

This photograph – which I took looking out over the Pacific Ocean – made me think about endings. Or maybe I took this picture because I was thinking about endings – the end of the land, the end of the ship’s journey, the end of my roll of film?

But it did get me thinking. I’m just in the midst (and when I say just I mean within a couple of hours) of finishing a big project I’ve been working on for pretty close to five months. I haven’t worked on the project (a 10 story serial – 80K which might just as well be a novel) without interruptions. I never work on a project that way. First, life gets in the way – work and family and vacations and… Second, other writing projects or deadlines get in the way. So while I was working on this project, I went through the editing process on six of those 8K stories, I wrote three short stories to deadline, I did a major rewrite of a big book for an editor who had asked for it, I wrote approximately 70 blogs.

The good news is that I didn’t get bored. Boredom is the biggest problem I have as a writer. And what I did learn while writing this serial was that I can have two or three projects on the go at the same time and I’m far more productive and creative when I do. If I get stalled (and then bored) on one thing, I move to the other (thus solving my boredom problem). It’s taken me a long time to figure this out but it’s good. It’s more than good – it’s GREAT.

The bad news is that for the last three parts of this serial, I’ve been in resistance mode. Now, I’m pretty familiar with this mode as it relates to my writing. Ever since I started writing my first short story, I’ve encountered it. Twenty or thirty stories later, I finally figured out what triggered it. I don’t like endings. I resist endings. I resist tying things up in a neat little bow – or even a not-so-neat little bow.

But, as the Borg so succinctly put it, resistance is futile.

Star Trek, like other iconic works of art, teaches us a lot. It taught us that we could split infinitives if we were brilliant, that it’s about 50/50 whether different species can live together in peace, that Captain Kirk (aka William Shatner) will never die. What they didn’t teach – or if they did, I missed that particular movie or episode – was how to resist resistance.

Or, to put it another way – how do I resist my propensity for resistance when I’m reaching the end of a story?

I’ve tried many things, starting with giving in to the resistance, listening to the Borg long before they actually arrived in the Star Trek universe. In that stage, I might have taken three months to write the last five pages of a short story because I couldn’t force myself past the resistance. The latest is to put myself up against a deadline so tightly that I have no time for resistance. This does work, but makes me feel as if I’m somehow cheating the process, as if I’m not doing my best work because I’m rushing it.

I want to figure out a way to resist my resistance to endings. I want to finish things because I want to, not because I have to. I want to stop worrying about when the resistance will kick in, how hard I’ll have to work to get past it.

What do you resist when you’re writing?



17 responses to “Resisting Resistance

  1. I have the opposite problem, I tend to speed up at the end–race to the finish. I have to actually slow myself down. I guess I have to resist racing to the end. I used to get caught running in the hall at school, too.


    • Wally, I still get caught running in the halls at school (or at least at work!). It’s actually not the very end I resist, it’s the part where – being a fogwalker – I have to make that turn to the end that makes the end inevitable. It usually happens somewhere between 2/3rds and 3/4s of the way through. And I still hate it.


  2. Gorgeous picture, Kate!!

    Like Wally, I usually race to the end – either that, or it rises up and catches me unaware. 🙂

    I often stumble somewhere in the middle of the zero draft. I start feeling lost and discouraged, and convince myself that the story is going nowhere. I have to resist giving up or giving in to my bitchy inner critic. This is where my critique partners come in extremely handy. They cheer me on, cheer me up and smack me around as needed!

    • Lisa, like you and Wally, I race to the end as well – but only the very very very end – like the last chapter or the last couple of pages and I, too, am often surprised by the end coming way sooner than I expect it too. It’s as if it’s been locked down inside of me and something unlocks it – what, I have no idea.


    • Me too. *laughs* Then Lisa smacks me and tells me to slow the F down. 😛

  3. I resist the beginning, because I get so immersed in the research I just want to keep digging. But there is a point where the story must begin and I know if I can write around the things I don’t know, I can always go back to the research.

    • Deb, I’m not a very good researcher. I think I’m a grazer, instead. Because I read all the time and am fascinated by so many different things, most of my research is somewhere inside my head before I begin writing. Research for me, at least when I’m working on a specific book, is more a case of checking a date or a name or an address on the internet. I think I’m lucky that I never get locked into research, it’d be way too easy to get lost in it.


  4. I think, because of how I write, I’m protected from that dreaded “ending” feel. I jump around a lot with what scenes I’m writing and I’ve usually got the ending already written long before I’m done with the novel.

    • I’m in the midst of a major rewrite. So, while I don’t normally find myself in your situation, I’m there now and find injecting scenes interesting.

      • Oooh, Raymond, you’re doing one of my favorite things. I do it all the time as I’m writing. Every day I go back over what I’ve done and I insert scenes, dialogue, whatever. I LOVE it. No resistance there at all.


    • Ana, I’m always fascinated by writers who write that way. I have a friend who writes her scenes with no real idea of where they’re going in the book and at the end she prints them all out, puts them on the floor, and then crawls around, putting them in the right place. I find that fascinating, but way scary.


      • *laughs* Other than the printing them out at the end, that’s pretty much my process. I don’t know where any single scene is going to go until I have enough of them to get a feel for the ebb and flow of the storyline. Even then there are always tweaks and scenes get rearranged almost constantly.

  5. I have to resist writing too much dialogue. I use it to show scenes and break up narrative, but I always need to pare that down.

    I know I do it because I love conversation, and I loved the movie “My Dinner with Andre” for that reason, but not everyone like “watching” narrative.


    • eden, I’m so with you about dialogue. I love it. I’ve written stories – though never a novel – that are all dialogue. It’s a great exercise but I can’t imagine it working for anything longer than a story.


  6. Unlike you, Kate, I usually have a sense of the ending part way into the book. I’m not a “fog walker” like you. Somehow that scares me.

    • Raymond, sometimes I wish I had that sense – but I suspect that even if I did, I would still resist the ending, in fact, I’d probably resist it even more. Because getting the ending on the page – getting it RIGHT – take a lot more magic than the rest of the book for me.


  7. Pingback: Where in the World is Josee Renard? | The World of Josee Renard

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