Resilience: the writer’s best friend, and worst enemy

brown scrabble tiles spelling writing

By Laurent Auclair

As a writer, there is a word I love and fear at the same time. That word is Resilience. It has the suave perfume of ‘victory’, of ‘I did it’, ‘I feel so much better now I have finally finished this draft’. But it also conjures up opposite thoughts of ‘giving up’, ‘dropping out’, ‘if it doesn’t come naturally, I don’t have to write’. Except I do. I know you do too so no need to explain.

Like every fear in life, it has to be faced and tamed. The following trio of tips helped me do exactly that. Maybe they could help you too:

1 – Schedule a routine
Writing is a muscle you need to train and perfect at all times. And exactly like a muscle, it weakens when you stop using it for too long. This weakness can be so painful that, after a while, you don’t want to even think about training it. To avoid this, I schedule writing time every day, no matter how busy my schedule. Not a long time, but time I cannot escape. One hour a day, five days a week. I can write whatever I want, but I have to write.
Soon enough, my scheduled hour turns into two or five, and my projects move faster than I originally thought. Weekends are off for me, but that’s just a personal rule; my writing muscle needs rest, too.

2 – Create a deadline
If you’re like me, you work most efficiently with a deadline, the tighter the better. And that’s great when you’re commissioned a script. But when you’re not? Well, probably just like me, you have that special friend who wants you to succeed but who can also call a spade a spade, and a bad script a complete waste of time. When I start working on a script, I write to that friend and tell her (in my case, this friend is a she) that on a certain date, she’ll be able to read my new draft. I write. I don’t call. So there’s a written trace.
This one works for only one reason; the fear of disappointing my trusted friend has motivational power that my own will can sometimes lack.

3 – Trust your brain’s “peripheral vision”
This one is mostly useful when I re-write a script. When writing a first draft, there’s only one goal; finish the damn draft and see where I am with my story. But when I re-write, I choose one problem raised by my script editor and focus on it all through my rewrite. So while I’m focused on this one problem, the brain, being such a wonderful instrument, uses its ‘peripheral vision’ to spot smaller problems and usually finds easy ways for me to fix them on the go. 
Surprising as it sounds, it’s an efficient way of working. When I read the new draft, I’m always amazed at how much I have solved without focusing on it.

Once you tame your fear and get Resilience on your side, there will be literally nothing you won’t be able to achieve, and I’m not just talking about your writing.