Note to myself: Break the resistance; the battle for creation

Procrastination, fear, self-doubt and much more are all different materialisations of ‘THE RESISTANCE’. Identify it, acknowledge it and defeat it every day.

Art is a battlefield, whatever you consider to be art, it’s a carnage. Bodies all around, wounded people, the hurt, the pain. Yet, here we are not giving up, picking up our weapons, charging to the frontline. Whatever your weapon is, everyone is fighting their own battle. For me it is a pipette, and medicine is my battlefield. Everyone is struggling with their own inner demon, trying to bring their gift to the world. I’ve struggled countless times pushing past doubts and many times I’ve given into it. It feels like there’s an inner fog or force field that is trying to stop me from reaching the next level, fulfilling my potential. I am guessing that if you’re reading this, you’ve felt the same.

Steven Pressfield has given this negative force a name, ‘THE RESISTANCE’. The identification/naming/revealing of this enemy, which has been elusive yet in plain sight at the same time, has been Pressfield’s greatest gift to me. In his book ‘the WAR of ART’, he details how ‘THE RESISTANCE’ keeps us from starting to work on our creation. As one of the great writers of this age, he has almost struggled decades to get his first break as a writer. The reason being is that he stopped himself from even starting. One of the first few pages in ‘the WAR of ART goes as follows: ‘There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.’

I couldn’t agree more, my toughest battle is not to produce the work, the experiment, the article or the presentation. For me the resistance is the strongest when my alarm goes off. Doubt starts creeping in, voices that whisper it won’t make a difference, it doesn’t matter whether you start your day early. Many days ‘THE RESISTANCE’ wins, I snooze for another 30 minutes, maybe an hour. I am guessing that this blog post is an attempt to materialise my inner enemy ‘THE RESISTANCE’ in order to gain an upper hand. I’m honestly sick and tired of this doubt… Pressfield has written 3 books centred on the experience of the artist, namely: the war of art, turning pro and the artist’s journey. The war of art is the first book of this trilogy and it’s by far the most powerful. Every sentence seems to matter in this book, to the point that I want to quote every sentence, unfortunately I’m forced to highlight snippets that have impacted me most. Every time I hit that snooze button, every time I procrastinate by watching a mindless video, ‘THE RESISTANCE’ materializes. Like a devil on my shoulder, it watches my actions, and cheers me on. As Pressfield states, ‘Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance.’

In the first chapter of this book, Pressfield defines our fiercest enemy ‘THE RESISTANCE’. Procrastination is just one materialization of it. ‘THE RESISTANCE’ also masquerades as fear, victimhood, unhappiness, self-doubt, criticism and rationalization of poor decisions. Fortunately, there’s a way out of the grip from ‘THE RESISTANCE’. Pressfield calls this, ‘turning pro’. He describes how the amateur gets defeated by ‘THE RESISTANCE’, whereas the pro defeats his immortal, reincarnating foe day after day. What I’ve experienced is that after I slay ‘THE RESISTANCE’ by starting my day or starting the work I’ve procrastinated, it has been defeated… for the day. Unfortunately, ‘THE RESISTANCE’ in my experience does not weaken. It’s always there lurking behind the corner waiting to pounce whenever you feel weak. I’m sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear. As Pressfield states, ‘the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.’ My hope is that reminding myself of the existence and powerful nature of ‘THE RESISTANCE’ allows me to focus my mind to not give in.

My hope for you is that you do the same, either by reading Steven Pressfield’s book ‘the War of Art’ or just even thinking about how ‘THE RESISTANCE’ materializes in your life. Let me finish with Pressfield’s message ‘Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.’ In other words don’t give in to ‘THE RESISTANCE’.

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