I didn't realize it at the time, but after writing and rereading "Won't You Come Looking?" I realized I am constantly making excuses not to create. And the logical side of my brain says, "This is crazy! You love to create!" I know? So why do I let life get in the way?
If you haven't read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, you need to stop reading this post and download it onto your tablet or phone right now. Don't worry, I'll wait. This book is worth it.
Got the book? Excellent. Now let me tell you why this book has been a game changer for me.
Pressfield's argument is there is this nasty little critter called Resistance who likes to stop us artists from getting anything done. S/he likes to make us feel as if what we have to give to the world isn't good enough; we're not good enough. So we spend years writing here and there, maybe creating a work of art once a year, and we hide away our creativity because surely, we're not good enough.
But Pressfield argues: "Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it" (The War of Art).
Did you hear that? We have to do it! Are you scared of leaving your job? Are you worried you will fail if you try to lose weight? Does the idea of starting your own business terrify you? Is it just too overwhelming to declutter your home? Do you make up excuses to stop yourself from writing or creating? That's resistance! And if resistance is telling you "No," it means it's the right choice for you.
"Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance" (Pressfield, The War of Art).
TAKE RESISTANCE DOWN
Resistance comes knocking on my door nearly every day. She was there this morning and was quite irritating. It took me an extra hour to get my writing done, but I got it done. No, I don't have all the answers for overcoming Resistance, but I'll tell you two things that have made the biggest impact for me when it comes to pushing Resistance and excuses to the side:
- Use a planner and schedule time to: write, paint, clean, look up healthy recipes, etc. Treat this time like you would a doctor's appointment. You wouldn't blow off a doctor's appointment, right? Don't blow off yourself either.
- Work in small chunks. When I started writing, I told myself all I had to do was write 100 words. I could do 100 words. And usually, once I got going, I wrote 500-1000 words a day. So then I told myself I had to write at least 1000 words each day, and you know what? The same thing happen? Once I started writing, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Now my minimum requirement per day is 15000 words and I'm working on making 20000 words a day the minimum real soon.
- Apply the above scenario to time. Just clean your desk for 10 minutes. That's it. 10 minutes. I bet you'll find yourself cleaning for 30 minutes to an hour once you get in the swing of things.
- Go for a walk or exercise. The rhythmic action of moving your body helps clear your mind. Don't believe me? Try it for a week. I guarantee ideas will pop out of "nowhere."
- Freewrite/Braindump: Make it a regular practice to braindump. Still having trouble coming up with ideas (or maybe you have too many ideas and can't seem to focus)? Spend 10+ minutes writing down anything and everything on your mind. Even if it's "I don't know why I'm writing this. This is never going to work...this is stupid..." Don't stop writing for those 10 minutes. Do this every morning or every evening, and just like walking, freewriting will lead to ideas you didn't know you had in you.
The strongest weapon I have against Resistance? Habits. Yup. Good old habits and routines help me create regardless of Resistance whispering in my ear and pulling on my hair. Writing may have taken me a little longer today, but it still happened. Why? Because for the past few months, I've sat down and written 1,500 words every day at 7am. Now that's it's it become a habit, it's much easier to do.
How DO YOU START A HABIT?
I discuss the concept of a Habit Stack in this post here, and really is the key to my habit building success. I guarantee there is something you do every day. Or at least Monday through Friday. If you want to create a new habit, you stack the new habit to an existing habit.
- After eating dinner, draw for ten minutes.
- Before you go to bed, write in your journal.
- As soon as you come home from work, sit down and art journal for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- After brushing your teeth in the morning, work on your blog.
"Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance" (Pressfield, The War of Art).
Take a few minutes and journal about the following:
- Are you guilty of making excuses?
- What type of excuses do you usually make? Be honest here. Do you claim to be "too busy?" Is it your job? House chores? Friends you "have" to spend time with?
- Do you let Resistance get in your way?
- In what way does Resistance show up? Are you afraid of something? Do things always seem to go wrong just when you are ready to get to work?
- What are you going to do today to turn the tables on Resistance?
- When will you stop making excuses?