Steven Pressfield, one of my favorite modern writers, writes about this idea of “Resistance” as a prevailing universal force that keeps us from accomplishing that which is most important to us. His basic point is, when you’re doing something worthwhile and creating, you will feel tons of resistance. And that’s natural. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the act of creating- even though not always a highly physical action- will create resistance.
It seeps into everything. You really want to write that chapter in your book but you somehow spend the whole night on Twitter. Your apartment suddenly becomes in dire need of a thorough cleaning the same night you set aside to start your screenplay. You sit down to write a blog and instead look at pictures of Jay Z and Beyonce.
Reading and learning about this concept has changed my life. Once I realized that what I was doing was sabotaging my own creativity, I could use the resistance to my advantage. I could learn that every time I find myself not doing something, I just have to be aware that I’m not doing it and take note of what that something is. Because clearly it’s important.
For example, when I was writing my book and web series at the same time, I would force myself to sit down and have long writing sessions. I would set aside clear times where I went off the grid. And I would stare at a blank piece of paper with no idea what was going to come. I’d give myself every advantage to be productive and I would still think of creative things to do other than write. But I realized that I was resisting. Which meant I was doing something important. So I’d push through and write anyway. Not because it was the best stuff I’ve ever written. But because I had to show myself that I could beat resistance.
It’s the same with my physical fitness. I like running distance races not because I plan on winning anything, but because I like training my physical body not to give up and to push through. Lots of times when I write it’s just to force myself to focus- not because I think it’s the most profound thing I’ll ever write. I just want to practice pushing through. I do open mics for comedy not because I expect my new agent to be waiting for me in the audience, but because I want to practice pushing through the nerves of standing in front of people and saying stuff (that often isn’t funny…yet).
Lately, I’ve felt a lot of resistance. At first I thought maybe it was just a reaction to the fact that my web series is in post-production so there’s not a whole lot I can do for it (which is not true- there’s still lots to be done on my end. Tons, actually. Erg.). But I’ve realized it’s because I’m at a new phase of creation. I need to revamp my book. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’m working on several submissions. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’ve got a few new projects on the docket which will- you guessed it- take a lot of creativity and discipline.
So I’m resisting. I don’t make time to sit. I peruse dumb pictures on BuzzFeed or Facebook. I don’t focus. I throw too much out there.
But I see it now. So I’m gonna do something about it. Because clearly these things that need to be created are gonna be amazing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be resisting them.