the war of art and resistance

ron'd recommended a book by steven pressfield, <em>the war of art</em>, to one of the other students last week, so i decided to pick it up. it's a short read; only an hour or so. but it's quite dense in ideas. it's about the force that he calls Resistance, and how it affects you, how to overcome it, and what it'll do to your life if you let it run unchecked.

reading it is an amazing kick in the ass. although it's in the self-help section of the bookstore, it's by no means the patronizing, fatuous, or juvenile type of book one usually finds there. i cannot recommend it enough to anyone who's struggling against procrastination and inertia in their life.

the book reminded me of something i'd known but consciously forgotten by now: one of the most valuable things i learned from getting my degree in writing is that <em>writing itself isn't difficult -- it's sitting down and getting the writing done that will defeat you. </em>

it's not putting the words on paper, it's mustering the courage to do it, to find your voice. my writing professors called the Will to write 'discipline,' and they hammered it into us. we had to write under time constraints, we had to write in class, we had to write daily, and we had to write things we didn't want to write in forms we hated. we had to write in the middle of the loud and noisy cafeteria, we had to write on the grassy lawn in the sun with sleep calling us; we had to write in cold classrooms, we had to write at computers, and with pens and by hand to break us of the habit of getting attached to any one form. if my professors could have come up with a way for us to write while walking barefoot uphill in the snow, they would have (thankfully, it doesn't snow on campus). so, while a good portion of my time in school was learning technique and forms, and reading other writers, an equally large portion was spent learning the sheer discipline of writing.

i once found myself in a writers' workshop consisting of people who had always wanted to write but never had before, really. the leader went around the room, asking people under what conditions they preferred to write. the answers floored me. one woman couldn't write unless she had a special pen and special paper. one man couldn't write before noon. another couldn't write unless he had absolute quiet; another couldn't unless he had his favorite music. when it got to be my turn, i shrugged and said, 'i write, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. that's how i was trained.' you can imagine the looks i got.

there's a buddhist saying, "If you can practice even when distracted, you are
well trained." i am proud to say that i was indeed well-trained in writing.

pressfield makes a list of things that generate Resistance, and i thought it'd be interesting to put in bold the ones that currently apply to me:

<blockquote><strong>1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.</strong> [should be pretty obvious]

<strong>2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise. </strong> [my freelance career]

<strong>3) Any diet or health regimen. </strong> [watching what i eat and exercising]

<strong>4) Any program of spiritual advancement. </strong> [feri class]

5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals. [i have long since given up on tight abdominals, really]

<strong>6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.</strong> [feri class]

<strong>7) Education of every kind. </strong> [feri class and classes at the atelier]

<strong>8) Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves. </strong> [feri class]

9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.

<strong>10) Any act which entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship. </strong> [my decision to not settle for a bad relationship, to stick to my standards, and to my committed friendships]

11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of potential reprisal.

In other words, any act which disdains short-term gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any act of these types will elicit Resistance.</blockquote>

that's 8 out of 11. no wonder i so often feel like i'm wading through mud and getting nowhere in my life -- that's a <em>gigantic</em> amount of resistance. pressfield goes on to talk about how the creative life is one that taps directly into the Self, instead of the Ego. that's so in line with the feri study, it's amazing. how appropriate and timely that i read the book now and got that reminder to keep on fighting against Resistance.

so take a few minutes and think about what is driving you, what your inner calling is. what's stopping you from attaining it? and when will you be ready to fight against resistance to achieve it?