(The following is a guest post by my good friend and most loyal reader, Ol’ Jake. Tell him your thoughts in the comments! — Rebekah)
These are my artistic confessions:
1) It took me 36 days to write the original draft of this guest post for the Jaunty Dame. That draft
totaled 503 words, an average of about 14 words written per day.
2) My goal in life is to become a novelist, but I do not enjoy the act of writing.
3) I started Julia Cameron’s self-directed course, The Artist’s Way, on Monday. Every morning, participants are supposed to compose three pages of longhand writing. According to Ms. Cameron, these morning pages are non-negotiable. Today is Friday, and I’ve done the required writing only once – when I kicked off the program on Monday.
What has happened to me? I’m not a total chump when it comes to writing – at various points in
my life, I’ve made a living off of it (and editing, and other related skills). I’ve had short fiction
published in reputable places. I’ve even won a couple of awards.
Searching for answers has brought me back to my Bible in times of (self-induced) crisis – The
War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
If you haven’t read it, it’s a brief, startling examination into what Pressfield calls Resistance: the
unseen, evil force inside of us that prevents individuals from reaching their creative potential.
Resistance is the nastiest critic you could ever imagine, the worst parts of humanity’s collective
unconscious directed at keeping you and me from realizing our unlived lives.
Pressfield’s main thesis is that, in order to beat Resistance and become an artist, one must sit
down and actually do the work. A painter must force herself to apply paint to a canvas. A
composer must sit down and produce music. And a writer must write words. We cannot wait for
inspiration to come. Pressfield is adamant about this – if you do the work, and if you respect the
Muses, only then will the Muses bless your efforts. You can’t just think about it and half-ass it
some of the time. You can’t rely on good intentions. You have to do the work.
The last time I re-read the entire book, about a month and a half ago, I was inspired to
do…absolutely nothing. I stood up after closing the book and immediately returned to my
unproductive ways. (Actually, I probably took a nap.)
This time? This time I’m going to try and apply the lessons that I’ve learned from Pressfield,
specifically to my own confessions.
1) Why would I let the Jaunty Dame down by taking so long to write a blog post? Because I was
beaten by Resistance. I was afraid I would produce something subpar, and then she wouldn’t
want to be my friend anymore. (Resistance lies to us all the time. I did turn in something subpar,
and she’s still speaking to me.)
2) I don’t enjoy writing first drafts. I enjoy rewriting. Filling up a blank page is a task I will
always struggle with, but who said work was supposed to be fun?
3) The Artist’s Way is not going to be a ball, either. There’s going to be work involved. If I’m not willing to sit down and write longhand first thing in the morning, then Resistance will defeat me
I realize none of these are life or death issues, but they are a huge part of my personal identity.
Given the obvious artistic nature of this blog’s regular commenters, I’m guessing many of you
will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s the thing – I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t want you to live like this
anymore, either. I don’t know you, but I want you to create, and I want your creation to be
released out into the world.
So, if any of you have had similar experiences, enlighten us in the comments. How do you beat the Resistance that rises up against you? Have you been able to change your life, or do you revert easily back to your old patterns?