I’m a fan of Steven Pressfield’s work on the ‘Warrior Artist,’ which describes the artist’s battle against ‘Resistance.’ Pressfield explains Resistance as (this is my loose, clunky restatement of his fine, well-defined concept) the universal force that opposes creativity and anything inherently good for ourselves and others. Pressfield’s books explain Resistance in exquisite detail. It is an enemy he knows well, and he’s exposed it for the rest of us. In doing so, he gives us the best weapon with which to fight. Awareness.
Anyone who’s thought of creating anything, who’s every carried a dream, imagined a bigger, better life or a new way of doing things has felt Resistance. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer. It’s happy to prevent something as small as a kindness, as every-day as a trip to the gym, or as big as starting a charity or completing a novel.
Anything positive, anything that makes you or someone else feel good, Resistance is happy to consume. It’s forms and ways are many. It comes in the shape of the people we love, our greatest fears, our clear logic, our compulsions, excuses and addictions. It will comfort and lie and quietly wait us out until we run out of time or give in or fail, by whatever means we can find.
Our only hope is to realize this and find a way to stand, toe to toe, and fight back by doing our work. The thing our hearts are telling us we need to do.
Pressfield explains Resistance isn’t short-lived. It goes on and on forever. It is diabolical in its attack. We will always have to fight. This is another great gift of awareness, and like a shield in battle, I try to keep it at hand at all times. I accept Resistance is always working against me, and I try to identify, every day, what its angle of attack is. Sometimes I feel like if I can find where it’s hiding, I win.
After reviewing 2013, my goals, failures, successes, my project notes and morning pages, I’ve found what I think are Resistance’s TOP 3 methods of attack, and I thought sharing these might help someone who’s fighting their own fierce, exhausting internal battle for a dream or venture or positive step forward, no matter how big or small.
Also, I want to clarify, I’m not passing the buck here. When I say Resistance, I still really mean me. I’m responsible for what I do and don’t do, that is, how I handle (or sometimes don’t) the force of Resistance acting against me.
Okay, so here’s the three things that stopped me again and again in 2013.
1) Perfectionism – Last year I completed a couple of articles and guest posts that were decent, but I never pitched or submitted because I kept finding just one more thing to double-check and change, and then change again. And then one more thing to triple check, that I’d then just need to read over tomorrow, with fresh eyes, and then it’d be done. But then…
This beat me more than anything in 2013, at every turn. I failed on three major goals for the year because I allowed myself to get sucked into the unattainable black-hole ideal of perfectionism, which is just FEAR, but, I wouldn’t put my work out there. I was too cowardly to jump into the ring and be judged, so Resistance won.
2) Isolation & The Internet – Building a community of writing professionals, like building anything worthwhile, takes time. I’m early in this venture and sometimes feel isolated, unsure, and alone. The few wonderful writers/professional friends I do have, I try to take care to not overload them.
I started 2013 with a goal of becoming more active in the on-line writing community, to try to give a little back, and to hopefully get to know some others a little better. Resistance got me here, big time. The endless promise of meaningful connections (and the extensive distractions!) raised my hopes, consumed my energy, my time, and sometimes my money, but ultimately did little for my community growth or the quality of my work. Again, this is my fault.
Online interaction allows you to engage at a such a distance, in such a limited fashion (if you choose), and I tend to approach these interactions as one-way. I follow people, read endless articles and posts and books, but I rarely join the discussions. Granted, I’m trying to focus on learning and writing, but the online time I built into my schedule for last year ended up being a waste because I fell prey to doubts, fears and distractions.
3) Indulgence – Specifically, my awesome comfy bed, which is just wonderful and heavenly, never more so than at five a.m. when the alarm goes off. Even as I lay there, ignoring the alarm or hitting snooze, I know I’m being beat by Resistance. I’m not working. I’m not learning. I’m being defeated and it’s warm and flannely and dark and quiet and so much easier than staring at that bright screen and broke-down plot I just don’t know how to fix.
Usually, thinking of being defeated and knowing how crappy I will feel for the rest of the day if I miss the morning writing window will drive me from that snugly wonderland. At least most days.
Okay. So that’s my top 3 for 2013. Anyone else lose a battle a two?
Image Credit: résistance https://flic.kr/p/dnrUTU by Mick Cam license link https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/