The curse of writing resistance
Wasting hours in front of a blank screen, unsure what to write or how to unscramble those thoughts swirling around your mind?
That cursor is flashing away, mocking you. And all the while the clock is ticking. You’ve got better things to do but need to get your marketing message or social media update out there. Your business needs to stay visible.
The writing resistance affliction
Writing resistance is a common affliction. Symptoms include sweaty palms, nausea and the urge to run screaming from your keyboard at the thought of forming words into a coherent message.
You’re not alone however.
When it comes to writing even the most-seasoned writers feel resistance when putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
One of the biggest causes is the worry that what you write will be rubbish.
Here’s a little secret – no one’s first draft is pretty. Even those experienced writers. So don’t put yourself down. Congratulate yourself for getting the words out in the first place.
Producing the Ugly First Draft is basically where you show up and throw up. Write badly. Write as if no one will ever read it. Don’t worry about grammar, complete sentences or readability. You’ll tackle all that later Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
Use an anti-perfection pledge to banish writing resistance
The other thing that seems to affect entrepreneurs is trying to get everything right first time.
We all want to be perfect, or as near as. I’ve opened up and talked about my perfectionism before. To be honest, it kind of felt like a relief to get it out.
Still, even though I know perfectionism is an issue, it’s hard to keep in check. And trying to be perfect means you’ll struggle to get any first draft of your message onto the page.
Take yesterday. Worried about how to phrase the copy for one of my web pages, I kept going over it in my mind to the point that I spoiled a trip to the park with my boys. They had a fantastic time. Me? I sat and mentally berated myself for 2 hours about how rubbish my message was, how no one would get it, how my words wouldn’t be compelling enough. What a waste of mental effort.
I mentioned avoiding finding the perfect words in a recent post and made an anti-perfectionism pledge. It’s all about getting your message out there. Making it good enough, not perfect. That’s how things get done, businesses grow and you personally develop.
And it’s a way to scupper any writing resistance.
But it takes time to overcome deep-rooted beliefs about your writing ability.
Thanks to a lovely confidence coach, I’ve learned a questioning technique. This has totally changed my perspective and given me the practical tools to quieten those niggly perfectionist thoughts and reduce the pain of sitting down to write.
It’s called the Cartesian technique.
Try Cartesian questions to squish writing resistance
These are four questions confidence coaches use to give clients a different perspective. Great for overcoming self-sabotage or perfection-it-is.
- What would happen if you did make that change?
- What would happen if you didn’t make that change?
- What wouldn’t happen if you did make that change?
- What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t make that change?
It sounds a bit complicated but I tried it sat in my car at the supermarket car park (oh the glamour of being a solopreneur!).
Working through the questions I realised my business wasn’t about to come crashing down if I didn’t change two words in a sentence or spend four hours coming up with a new angle for a blog post. It felt very liberating.
I’ve decided to share my responses with you to help when you’re trying to write something and are feeling resistance to doing so.
I tailored the questions around my current issue, that annoying perfection demon who sits on my shoulder that stops me from getting into the writing flow. I questioned what would or wouldn’t happen if that demon backed off.
What would happen if my perfection demon did back off?
I’d feel lighter. I’d enjoy my work more and feel freer to let myself write without fear. I’d find it easier to sit down at my laptop to write and wouldn’t get writers block so often
What would happen if my perfection demon didn’t back off?
I’d probably take ages to write that new blog post or social media update as I’d be trying to get it just right. I’d take longer over doing everything and not be as productive with my time.
What wouldn’t happen if my perfection demon did back off?
I might not get as much done as I wouldn’t feel as driven. But my business wouldn’t fall apart and I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not writing a new blog post that week or missing a couple of Twitter updates.
What wouldn’t happen if my perfection demon didn’t back off?
I wouldn’t squish the doubt that my web copy is wrong. I’d be wearing myself out with worry that my writing wasn’t good enough. Plus I wouldn’t take steps to generate new business as I’d be listening to my perfection demon to wait until things are ‘just right’ before moving forward.
Thanks to these questions I quickly saw less-than-perfect writing wasn’t going to lead to my business crashing down around me. I’d be more productive with my time, get a good enough message out there and feel less guilt. In turn, this would lead to less writing resistance.
My challenge to you this week is to reduce that writing resistance and get some words out there.
Tell yourself good enough is good enough.
And if you find yourself obsessing over writing something then I want you to step away from whatever it is for 15 minutes and use the questions above to get perspective.
Did it reduce your writing resistance? I want to hear how you got on – let me know in the comments below.