Why Am I Not Writing When I Want To Write?

I’m sprawled on the sofa.

It looks like I’m mindlessly scrolling Instagram, but what’s actually happening is screaming inside my head:


But there’s a giant purple hairy sleepy yeti on my chest. It smells funny and it’s making me itchy. I think I’m allergic.

The purple yeti is squeezing the life out of me and I can’t take a full breath, let alone stand up, LET ALONE walk to my office and write the thing I desperately want to write.

The purple yeti is what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance.

We’ve all met it at some point.*

We laugh it off, we chuckle at how great we are at procrastinating, but listen—this is serious.

Resistance will destroy us.

I listen to the voice in my head; the one that begs and cajoles and sometimes shouts at me to write the thing I so badly want to write.

I know what I want to create… and yet, I’m not doing it. And it hurts.

When we don’t create what we feel called to do, the purple yeti nibbles away at us, taking a tiny bite every day, delicately flaying the flesh from our bones, seasoning it with our enthusiasm and passion, until all that’s left is an angry, empty husk.

I don’t want that for you. I definitely don’t want it for me; it makes my chest hurt.

The usual advice is to power through. Use more willpower. JUST TRY HARDER. Hustle it out and if we want it enough, we’ll do it. If we fail, it’s because we’re basically shit.

I’m not gonna lie—we do have to sit our butts down and do the damn work—but it’s not about willpower or trying harder. And it’s definitely not because we’re shit.

It’s about figuring out why we want to do this in the first place, then creating an environment which makes writing as easy as possible.

So let’s figure this out.

Part of resistance is about dopamine: we choose easy dopamine now over more satisfying dopamine later on, after we’ve done the thing. It’s like choosing to eat one marshmallow right now instead of an entire cake made out of the most delicious, premium, vegan marshmallows tomorrow. Kind of.

Question: how do we make this more fun?

I know how I can make it more fun for me—but how can you? Here are a few of my techniques:

  • Trick yourself into writing by starting something entirely different, like an angry letter about something currently enraging you—then when you’re in your flow, switch it to the thing you want to do.
  • What do you enjoy? Write about that for a few minutes. If you’re currently watching Karen the Homicidal Emu on the Useless Farm Instagram account, for example, write about her.
  • Play a writing game.
  • Doodle.
  • Sing. I make up many ridiculous songs while I’m thinking. This article began as a song.

Question: could you write about something else? Instead of the thing you want to write about?

  • Write about your resistance: get to the bottom of it. What’s stopping you? Are you afraid? That’s okay—write it out, nobody will ever see it.
  • Don’t write at all—stay under the purple yeti, and—mid-scroll—open your voice notes and start talking. Talk about the resistance, the yeti, the thing you want to write—anything. After a while, the yeti may roll off and you may find yourself able to stand and move and create.
  • Promise yourself you will only write one word. Or three. Or ten. Then see if you can do another, and another. Pick something so small it’s more effort to not do it.

Question: can you make it a habit?

I function only with a snappy routine, and if something breaks my routine I am—to put it bluntly—fucked. So let’s see if we can build a habit:

  • Try habit-stacking. For instance, I tumble out of bed and into my running clothes and I’m out the door before I do literally anything else. Then I autopilot into my office and do my post-run yoga stretching. Then I get into the shower, then brush my teeth, then dress, then make tea, then sit down and write. This is my morning routine and when it goes sideways so do I.
  • If there’s a thing you do every single day, tack your writing onto that thing and do it immediately afterwards until it becomes second nature.
  • Sandwich it with a reward: once you’ve written for your session, get your extra dopamine hit (although I promise you’ll feel good having done the writing).

Finally: if you know what your avoidance poison is—mine is my phone—remove it if you can.

My phone stays in the house while I am in my office and it works! If I can’t see it or touch it, it can’t destroy me.

You are not broken

You are not lazy.

You are not a shitty human.

You are experiencing Resistance and, like the Borg, it’s powerful. It’s a giant purple yeti, frand—it’s tough.

You might not beat it every day; but once you know it’s there, you can figure out how to shrink it. Until it becomes a tiny cute purple yeti that resembles one of those 90s troll dolls, and you can put it in your pocket, and it can remind you that you are capable of magnificence.

Never let anyone tell you Resistance isn’t real; it is.

Just don’t let it kill your light.

Don’t become a husk.

Get in touch and let me know—did any of these strategies help you demolish your purple yeti?

Do you have a strategy that works for you, because I’d love to hear about it—and try it out.

p.s. *Some of us meet resistance every single day for stuff as small and ridiculous as picking something up off the floor. Seriously: it’s easier for me to walk past said thing and be angry about it still being on the floor for a week than to bend down and pick it up.

There is a clear perspex screen between me and the thing on the floor, making it impossible to grasp it. This is a tiny glimpse into what ADHD looks like for me. If you are neurodiverse, too, perhaps this sounds familiar.

If so, stick around—because I will never tell you that you just have to suck it up and use more willpower. I will never tell you that you’re not trying hard enough.

We do have to GET IT DONE—there’s no other way to write a book and I’m not gonna coddle anyone—but I know it's harder for some of us than for others.

These emails contain some of my coping tools and strategies.

They help me. Maybe they’ll help you too.

p.p.s. Bonus tip: invest in some top quality noise-cancelling headphones if you can—they literally changed my life. I chose a pair of Bose QuietComfort 45s and they were worth every penny and more.

One of the things that can cause resistance is simply not knowing where to start.

Sometimes, we just need someone else’s eyeballs and take on things to get clear on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what we need to do next.

If that sounds like you, check out my Book Breakthrough Session. Scroll down the page and find out all about it.

Or schedule a quick call using the button below to see if that’s what you need.

Notes in the Margin

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About the Author Vicky Fraser