On Mental Resistance

I’ve titled this, “On Mental Resistance” because “On Resistance” might imply revolutionary tendencies. That is not to say I lack such tendencies, simply that this particular post is not about them.

 

There’s a force in your brain that wants to stop you from taking risks. Any time you embark on a creative venture, you are taking a risk. The little voice in the back of your mind whispering excuses like, “I’m not ready,” or “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “Who’s going to read it anyway?”

That voice is called “Resistance”, which is a term popularized by Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art. This is not an advertisement for his book, but I do recommend picking it up if you’re any kind of artist.

Now, dear reader, perhaps you are not an artist. But keep reading anyway, because I’m a great writer and you should read everything I’ve ever written.

First of all, you need to recognize this problem. If you are a creative type, you need to recognize this resistance inside yourself which blocks you from pursuing your creative outlet. Recognizing the problem is the first step towards solving it.

Unless you’re one of those weird people who can just fearlessly and effortlessly dive into a creative project and stick with it until it’s done. If so, I envy you.

Even as I write this, I feel my own resistance towards writing. Like, why should I, of all people, write about this? Shouldn’t I write something else? Shouldn’t I work on my next novel instead? Who the hell cares if I write about something like this anyway, when there are so many better writers who’ve written about this already?

My resistance makes some good points, there. I probably should work on my big project instead of just shitting out another blog post. I probably am under-qualified, poorly informed, and generally worse-off to speak on this than a thousand other people.

But I’m doing it anyway, because fuck you. Not you, specifically, you’re cool.

Yesterday I wrote about morning routines, and that’s a big part of my personal efforts towards beating Resistance. Designing a morning that fits my goals, sticking to it until it becomes a habit… That’s what I’m working on right now. Overcoming Resistance requires discipline, something which is sorely lacking in many writers, including myself. We have to make use of what discipline we do have, while we still have it, and get past our mental barriers in the morning. Or in the afternoon, if you sleep til then. No judgement here.

Another word for Resistance is “Writer’s Block”. Personally, I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least, I don’t believe in it for me. If you sit down to write and you stare at a blank page, something is bound to come out of you. Maybe it’ll be garbage, but at least you’ll have written something. Writer’s block is that resistance in the very moment before you begin, and once you clear it, you’re in the magical realm of flow. Flow is another concept in creative work that you’ve probably heard of, but I won’t go into that here.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is that Resistance is a thorn in the side of writers and creatives everywhere, and more people should be talking about it. Go read the War of Art, start up whatever creative project you’ve been putting off, and stick with it until it’s done. Or, go write a blog post telling other people to do that while you continue procrastinating on the project you’re actually supposed to be working on.

With love,
Jack Wolfe

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