Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Resistance Is Futile. Uh, this guy says it's not. I'm with him.

 (Image from Google Images search for "resistance")
Today I started reading THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield.  A Must Read for all artists, writers, musicians.  Heck, anyone really.  Seriously, go buy a copy.  
I can’t comment on every point he makes, but I’ll touch on the ones that hit me hardest.  I’ll cover Book One today—Resistance:  Defining the Enemy 
It is invisible.  That sneaky little shit! 
Resistance is Internal.  We blame it on our jobs, our kids, our stress.  No.  It’s inside us. It will say anything, do anything to trick you.  “Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”  (Pg. 9)
Use Resistance to solidify what we really want.  “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”  (pg. 12)
You cannot reason with Resistance.  It has one goal—to stop you—and it never tires of the game.  
Resistance never goes away, taunting you until the bitter end.  There is no First Blood.  It’s a Death Match.  And it is strongest near the end, when your goal is within your grasp.  Watch out for it.  Don’t let it get you.
Resistance is not self-sustaining.  Our fear is its daily bread.  Without the fear, Resistance dies.  
*The number one symptom is Procrastination.  And I excel at procrastination.  We are bosom pals, BFFs, comrades, brothers [or sisters] in arms!  It’s the easiest to rationalize because what’s the harm in waiting another day to start?  No one’s gonna keel over because I didn’t write today, or the last however many days.  
He goes on to list others like getting into trouble, creating drama or going on about your drama, criticizing others, alcohol, drugs, and on and on.  These things get you attention.  Much easier than buckling down and finishing what you started. 
*Unhappiness.  This was, by far, the most profound because it described me to a T.  
A low-grade misery pervades everything.  We’re bored, we’re restless.  We can’t get no satisfaction.  There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We’re disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.”  (Pg. 31)
That pretty much sums up the last four months, some points more than others.  According to Pressfield, the only cure is...drumroll, please...doing our work. 
*Self-Doubt.  I have this in spades.  But Pressfield says this can also be our ally.  Being scared shows how much we want this thing, be it a novel, a painting, or a song.  So while I feel like I’m drowning in it sometimes, at least I know for sure this isn’t a phase.  Am I a writer?  He says if I ask that question at all, then I am.  Whew.  I was starting to wonder *g*
*Fear also points us towards what we should be doing, just like the quote above from page twelve.  It guides us.  More fear=More certainty.  I don’t know about you, but I’m scared shitless.  Scared that I won’t finish one book, let alone all the ideas I have brewing upstairs. 
*Rationalization—Resistance’s fraternal twin (my term, not his).  The problem with rationalizations is that they are legitimate issues.  I_do_have three kids, one of which has Asperger’s.  I_am_the only income right now.    I_am_working full-time plus overtime to make ends meet.  I_don’t_have babysitters or family nearby to help.  This is all bullshit.  He cites Tolstoy (had thirteen kids and still wrote WAR AND PEACE) and Lance Armstrong (won Tour de France after cancer!).  I used to be my own example of this—Supermom who bakes gluten free brownies for the school function after cooking for a family of five and getting them to bed and_then_staying up to read and write.  But somewhere down the line, I let Resistance get the upper hand.  
It is my goal to get myself back and beyond where I was before.  Eliminate Resistance.  


Deniz Bevan said...

Fear, yes. I'm not afraid of starting or finishing a book, but afraid of doing the endless revisions necessary to keep raising the stakes for my characters...

L. said...

I suspect that even with all the "Life's a journey!" sayings that get thrown around, we all still secretly wish that we will someday get to that Place Where Everything Is Easy.

It don't exist, folks. Life's a journey. This is what it is.

Aven said...

@Deniz--yes, the revisions strike fear into my heart as well *g*

@L--True, you just have to write throughout the journey. Write for yourself without the expectations of others veering you off-course.

Anonymous said...

As L. mentioned, I am one of those always waiting for that marvelous, rumoured of Place Where Everything Is Easy. It's not even a secret. ;)

This book sounds great (Yes, I am going to buy it) and I related to your personal reflections on how different things he talked about are so true.

Aven said...

Ev, I highly recommend this book. In fact, I think I need to read it several times a year just to keep myself in line *g*