Life as a writer is tough. There are numerous books that shine a light on the writing process and I have read them all. This was a beloved method of procrastination that I subscribed to for many years. These books have a way of making you feel like the second you finish them you are going to run to the page and write with the fury of a reporter on deadline. Sometimes this happens but the effect usually peters out after a few days. One of my favorite writers, Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art describes this procrastination as Resistance. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer, accountant, body builder, designer – Resistance exists for everyone. Resistance is the thing that gets in the way of you doing your work. It’s the millions of things on your to-do list, the unwashed laundry, the phone call you should really make, the quiet but powerful voice that says today I want to do anything but write.
I’m feeling Resistance particularly strongly today which is why I have decided to make lemonade out of these lemons and write about it. Resistance has gotten the better of me for years now. I have been writing somewhat consistently, but I am still at the mercy of the elusive and fickle inspiration angel. One of the greatest gifts that the Vipassana Meditation course gave me was the little bit of confidence I needed to prove to myself that I can, in fact, sit down and do the work.
Is there something you would like to be doing that you just can’t seem to get yourself to sit down and do? Chances are, you are facing your own Resistance monster. Here’s what it feels like for me:
- A strong, insatiable desire to mindlessly scroll Facebook
- A sudden decision to go to the grocery store
- The need to take my dog on his 12th walk of the day
- The urgency of the laundry, dishes, email, _______
- A voice in my head saying ‘you have already written everything good you are ever going to write. To try again would be a joke.’
- Compulsively reorganizing/cleaning my desk
- Texting someone, anyone to hang out with/distract me
- Watching or reading the great works of someone else
- Reading about writing – this one always gets me
I’ve discovered what it all really comes down to. It comes down to fear. The fear that I will never write anything good again. The fear that I will not live up to my own expectations and the Muse will stop visiting me. The fear that I will waste my life doing something I am no good at.
Elizabeth Gilbert quelled some of these fears in her lovely book Big Magic. She writes “That’s what my books are to me: journeys that I took, in which I managed (blessedly) to escape myself for a little while.” I love this because it helps me to redefine what success is. For so long I have held the belief that success is monetary, it’s something that you get praise for, it’s something that gets you things. What a beautiful shift to think of the writing as the success. Success is what I am doing right now. Success is showing up and writing when everything inside of me is saying NO. This is my journey today.