What is this naysayer within? You can overcome it by developing a “pro” mindset, accessing the dynamic of inspiration, and killing fear.
Resistance blocks the way to any growth or accomplishment – starting a diet, beginning a quest for spiritual advancement, or launching an entrepreneurial venture. The Resistance stands between the life we live and the unlived life within. ~ Steven Pressfield
Have you faced off with the Resistance in writing or in any creative endeavor … even something like a new health regimen? You have. If you’re human, you have …
I’ve recently read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” These are words from the 6th century BC.
Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general who wrote the classic The Art of War, a work on Chinese military strategy. Steven Pressfield’s title is a play on Sun Tzu’s title, The Art of War.
Pressfield labels the enemy of creativity “RESISTANCE.”
Blocking Growth or Accomplishment
Resistance blocks the way to any growth or accomplishment – starting a diet, beginning a quest for spiritual advancement, or launching an entrepreneurial venture. The Resistance stands between the life we live and the unlived life within.
Pressfield has a lot to say to writers or anyone seeking to release their creative energies.
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.
This internal foe, this force operates within each of us – self-sabotage, self-deception, self-corruption. Writers have referred to it as “block,” a paralysis that shuts down creativity and productivity.
Anything to Stop the Work You Are Called to Do
The Resistance wants to prevent us from doing the work we are called to do. We are to discover who we are and to become it. And we are to discover the work we are called to do and do it. The more important something is related to who we are to become or what we are to do, the more Resistance we will experience.
Someone once asked the great author Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when inspiration struck him. “I write only when inspiration strikes me. Fortunately it strikes me very morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Creativity demands labor. Emotional labor. Creative discipline. The Resistance to creativity has to be overcome.
How do we do that? Can we win against this Resistance?
Become a “Pro” to Overcome the Resistance
One of the ways is to cultivate the attitude of a “Pro.” Shun the amateur mindset. Turning “Pro” is a state of mind. It is hard-core self-discipline. Stop procrastinating. Simply, showing up everyday and doing the work we are called to do is how we start to win.
The decision to do the focused work on a consistent basis is a key in overcoming the Resistance. Robert McKee writes in the Forward how the professional acts step-by-step, day-by-day: “preparation, order, patience, endurance, acting in the face of fear and failure – no excuses.” Mastery of the craft is the focus of the professional.
The Dynamic of Inspiration
Pressfield than focuses upon inspiration. When we begin the work, inspiration will come.
“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us … we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
He writes that inspiration flows from a ‘higher realm.” Ultimately, inspiration is sourced in the divine.
The Resistance increases the closer we get to the finish line. The closer we get to accomplishment, the more likely we may be to self-sabotage our own effort. This is the calling card of the Resistance. “At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.”
Sun Tzu tells us if we know the enemy and know yourselves, we will be victorious. In overcoming the Resistance to creativity, we discover something of the nature of the enemy. And we discover the struggle comes from within our very selves.
It’s a quick read. Insightful. Inspiring. Think of it as a dose of tough love for yourself – The War of Art by Pressfield is a kick in the pants you’ll enjoy.
Q4U: Have you struggled with the Resistance in your writing or any creative endeavor? What action steps will you undertake to overcome?