Okay, I know you just read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield and you think it’s the answer to your problems with writing.
For years you’ve been struggling, flogging yourself as a lazy undisciplined procrastinator who doesn’t have what it takes to be a writer.
And here comes Steven Pressfield with this demonic portrait of Resistance, which has all this time been hell-bent on stopping you from writing:
Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack. This is Resistance’s nature. It’s all it knows.
You want to believe there’s a force outside of you, opposing your every creative impulse, because then you can stop fighting yourself and start fighting this universal enemy. Even if it means buying into a lifetime battle.
You find it reassuring to learn that even a bestselling author and screenwriter is constantly combating this “most toxic force on the planet,” because it means there’s nothing wrong with you.
You’re ready to “turn pro” and redouble your efforts in a life-and-death match against Resistance. Beat your chest and rattle your sabre! Never take your eye off the adversary!
Just don’t be surprised when you get tired. Or discouraged. When Resistance grows stronger the more you fight it.
War is not a happy place to live.
Remember the article you wrote for your alumni magazine just before you read The War of Art? Remember the fun you had, how easy and playful it felt? And how quickly and effortlessly you finished it?
Where was Resistance then? Smoke break? Taking a bath? Busy harassing Steven Pressfield?
Nope. Resistance had evaporated. You were in flow.
- You had a clear goal: 500 words on writing and technology.
- You knew where the article was good and not good.
- There was a nice balance between the challenge of the piece and your abilities.
- The task in front of you held your attention.
- The pleasure of the work made distractions fade away.
- You knew you could not fail.
- You lost a sense of time passing, and even of your own self.
- The writing was all the reward you needed (although getting published and paid didn’t hurt either!).
Didn’t that feel amazing?
Here’s what I believe.
Your creative work is Irresistible.
When you take care of yourself, and design your life to support your art, you couldn’t resist the flow if you tried. You get drenched in inspiration. Words pour out of your fingers like rainwater from a spout. You get up early, stay up late, whatever you need to do in any circumstance, because you love your work like crazy. And it loves you back. Your books WANT to be written.
You can live in flow.
Six years from now, you will be a creativity coach. You will work with wonderful writers and artists who are tempted to believe in the Resistance bogeyman.
And you will be inspired to create a coaching service called Enter the Labyrinth, so those creators don’t have to go to war. So they can be gathered up in the flow instead.
Doesn’t that sound divine?
P.S. Just wait until you see how insanely productive you’ll be in six years! You won’t believe it. And it’ll feel sooooo good.
P.P.S. No Resistance was experienced in the writing of this letter.