Category: Wisdom

The Gravity of Resistance

The wheels came off my writing last week. Simple as that.

I’d been making good progress on my manuscript. I’d been working every day, letting the story flow through me, not looking back. And – miracle of miracles – I’d avoided falling into the trap of reviewing what I wrote (and thus, wanting to revise). I was successful in pushing myself forward, just putting down on paper whatever came to mind.

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But then I stopped.

There’d been no emergencies, no hiccups in the daily routine, no emotional upheavals.

I just stopped.

At that moment, I recognized it for what it was: Resistance.

But while I looked Resistance in the face and acknowledged it, I did little to stop it. I basically let Resistance barge its way in, like a relative who arrives to spend one night and ends up taking ownership of the house.

How many times have I read about Resistance in Steven Pressfield’s wonderful book, The War of Art?

How much do I need to study it before conquering the bastard?

Here’s the secret: the bastard will never, ever, go away. One can only defeat Resistance on a day-by-day basis.

As is sometimes the case with Mr. Pressfield’s teachings, I somehow needed to hear that come out of his mouth rather than read it in print.

Mr. P. was the guest on last Sunday’s “Super Soul Sunday” program on OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s TV network. She and Mr. P. sat in the shade of a pepper tree on her farm in Maui, where they talked about several concepts from The War of Art.

I would have appreciated the interview more if Oprah hadn’t interrupted Mr. P. so often (a trait that niggles my annoyance button), but we still got a few of his powerful, practical nuggets of wisdom for breaking through Resistance.

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Resistance is the gravity that presses down on us, keeping us from reaching our higher, more noble self. Think of Resistance as a wall that has been constructed to block your way each time you try to rise up out of yourself to achieve a new level of creativity.

Resistance is strengthened by the molecules of Ego. Remove Ego from the equation and that wall called Resistance becomes much more porous and easy to slip through.

The interview is worth watching in its entirety; you’ll find it here.

I wish that Steven Pressfield had his own television show. There is too much “inspiration-driven” content out there that dissolves into the ether the moment a program ends. Mr. P. is a natural teacher and is a breath of fresh air, with practical, no-nonsense, “get your ass in the chair and do it” advice. It’s the wisdom that most of us need to help us get out of our own way and make a difference in this brief lifetime.

My novel is waiting.  Time for me to tell my Ego to take a hike and say hello to my higher, Nobler Self.

Today, I will beat Resistance. Today, I will be a Professional.

Today, I will write.

The Weight Of Fear

climb-that-like-a-tree-tank.american-apparel-unisex-tank.athletic-grey.w760h760I surround myself with sayings painted on paper and canvas, reminding me to be brave, take chances, embrace new possibilities, screw what others think.

I meditate, exercise, live in the moment. I keep a post-it note stuck to my bedside lamp, reminding me to make good art.

I run with the wolves, journey along the road less traveled, and never, ever, let anyone move my cheese.

But I live with fear.

Not the run-like-the-wind-before-the-grizzly-claws-your-right-ass-cheek-into-hamburger kind of fear, but a fear that would make anyone from a third-world country desperately want to smack the living shit out of me.

It’s the spoiled-rotten, narcissistic type of fear.

Fear of creating something that is redundant.

Fear of imperfection.

Fear of getting messy.

Fear of things that might happen five years from now if my work gets published.

I even allow good things to send me into a spiral of dread. The offer from a noted writer and professor, who’s offered to line-edit my work. Interest from a highly respected (and successful) book agent.

Just a wee bit of insanity, that.

But I’m learning. I don’t get paralyzed by it as often as I used to.

I’m working on not using food to stuff my creative energy back down my throat. I can step on the bathroom scale after a period of “dread eating” and say “So, this is how much fear weighs.” And I’ve decided that carrying the burden of excess poundage is much harder work than writing five hundred words.

When I’ve desperately wanted to lie down and take a three-hour nap, I’ve made bargains with myself to write just one sentence. That’s all, no more. And it’s funny how the second, and third, and fourth sentences are usually waiting right behind the first.

That fear is ridiculous goes without saying, but it’s real nonetheless.  I’m thinking that you might have some fear in your life, too.

What is your fear? How much does it weigh? What tools do you use that help?

For now, I’ll keep forging head with my newest mantra: Lighten Up, Francis.

Advice From The Future Me

Keep CalmFebruary has been here for more than seven days and I didn’t even know it.  She never knocked, never poked her head around the door with a yoo-hoo. She simply crept in and made herself at home.

In starting this year of tiny steps toward a bigger life, January brought happiness. I achieved my sole goal for the month, to sit my ass in a chair each and every day and write. There were times I couldn’t wait to get to work, other times I sat and cursed myself for turning on the Self-Control app. Mornings when I drove to the library with a knot of despair in my stomach over not knowing where the scene I was writing would go. And the day I wrote 700 words of shit in order to find that one, perfect sentence that rang through my head with the force of a cathedral bell.

I’ve been thinking about what I want this year of writing to mean to me. The hard work, nose-to-the-grindstone part of it will not be the most important thing, but rather the increased awareness of the process itself.

What if I could project myself into the future, to a time when I might look back and say I wish I could tell my past self what I now know? I think I would tell myself three things:

1. Treat Time with the same devotion you give to your lover. You always have Time, it never leaves your side. It’s the attention you give Time that makes the difference in how your life will unfold as a writer. Fall in love with Time, for although it’s always with you, it’s only with you for as long as you are here on this planet. Think about the end of your life, with a plan to go out in a blaze of thunder and lightning that tells the world you and Time had one of the greatest love affairs in the history of the Universe.

2. Just when you think you’ve gone deep enough, go deeper. Strive for ecstasy, the ecstasy of prying and pulling the most painful feelings and memories from the darkest recesses of your guts so that your characters can live fully on the page. Good storytelling is only the beginning; it’s when you stand naked, with your fears and joys and longings and pain hanging out of every orifice, that your writing will mean something to readers.

3. There is no lion. You are a human being, conditioned to protect yourself from being eaten. But there is no lion, no tiger, no bear. There is nothing to run away from. This is fiction writing, creating a reality that is all your own and therefore can never be wrong. You will not die from putting anything you want to down on the page. Fly in the face of the human condition. Acknowledge the fear, then do it anyway.

I like the future me. Let’s see if February does as well.