WRITING RESISTANCE –
My problem with writing is that I care too much about what other people think. For years I’ve wanted to write a book. I’ve even started a few but I’ve never gotten past the first chapter. A lot of people start something great, but most never finish. I confronted this idea in Jess Walter’s book “Beautiful Ruins.” There is a character who makes a special trip to Italy every summer to write a book. He does this for years and all he writes is one chapter.
I don’t write because I’m scared that I’ll run out of things to say. I’m afraid that people won’t like my book, and that all my efforts will be for nothing. I look at the masses of books that are published every year and think, ‘Why would anyone read a book that I wrote when they could read one of these 10,000 books?”
I listen to a lot of podcasts and interviews of great writers and they always say the same thing: to be a writer you have to write. So what did I do when I heard that? I read more books and listened to more podcasts…
Before I could start on the path to my dreams I thought I had to dig into my soul. And I did, for a while. But you can only read so many books and spend so many hours thinking before its time to do something.
Steven Pressfield talks in depth about the hurdle we face when trying to do something important. He calls it RESISTANCE.
Resistance was winning. Knowing that didn’t stop me from succumbing into its claws. My form of submission was trying to figure out why I was resisting.
“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 be 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” – Steven Pressfield “The War of Art”
My resistance continued and I read more books.
These books are life-changing and everyone should read them:
The Four Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss
Vagabonding – Rolf Potts
The Art of Non Conformity – Chris Guillebeau
Since reading these books, I have not been the same. My outlook on life has transformed. Not in the sense that I’ve changed my desires, but that in that my dreams now seem achievable.
After finishing each book, my mind would go crazy thinking of all the things I wanted to do. More importantly I had ideas about how to get those things. Then after a day or so of brainstorming, the flame would fizzle. Before I knew it, a couple weeks had gone by and my life hadn’t changed for the better. Why was I reading these great books if I was going to just sit around and think about stuff?
Actually it isn’t true that I was doing nothing. That was resistance taking on another form: discouragement. I had started taking steps toward my goals. For example, I was being more careful about my spending so I could save money for big trips and I had applied for a passport.
When you read a book about someone transforming their life from being a cubicle-sitter to a world-traveller you watch their transformation unfold in a period of a few hours. My real-time life experiences were moving at a glacial pace in comparison. I stopped myself and counted all of the positive steps I was taking and realized that progress was being made. Sometimes the apparent lack of progress can be debilitating. Make sure you give yourself the credit and encouragement you deserve when you are taking steps forward.
Knowledge CAN be the preventer of achievement. Gathering data is super important. You have to know what you’re getting into and determine if its something you really want.
BUT At some point you have to start doing. Even if you’re not 100% prepared you will learn as you go. The mistakes you make will be the most important lessons that shape your character and give grit to your success. And I don’t mean stop reading! Learning from others is always less costly than learning things in the school of hard knocks. Just make sure that you’re reading AND working.
So I’m writing! I don’t know where this is going but I’m doing it. Even if it’s just a blog a day, I’m putting in work and THAT is what matters.
Clearly this idea of breaking down resistance extends beyond wanting to be a writer to whatever discipline you’re interested in. As Pressfield says,
“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.” -Steven Pressfield
Don’t give in! Successful people are not excuse makers. Some struggle less than others, but there is no formula.
Start and don’t stop.