I’m having a tough time with the blog this week. There are a number of entries I know I want to write—first and foremost being the story of how I detoured from my acting career to write a novel—but I want them all to be good and that overwhelms me, so my inner awesomeist is like, “Save that one for later.” “Nah, not yet.”
I am such a cliché.
I wrote a whole entry about pushing forward in spite of these feelings, and I still can’t apply it to my own life on a regular basis.
Cue self-loathing spiral.
Cue looking at email/Twitter to escape spiral.
Cue wondering what the hell I’m doing and forcing myself to get back to work.
In that few-weeks ago entry, I mentioned Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Now I will also mention Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. It was recommended to me years ago by the great David Ross, and it’s been absolutely indispensable. I recommend it to every creative person I meet; it’s lit a fire under my stagnant, self-pitying ass too many times to count at this point.
The crux of the book is that Resistance pops up whenever we try to create a piece of art. This Resistance comes in many forms (“I don’t have time!” “I’m feeling too tired today.” “I’ll do this in the summer, when my mind is clearer.”) but 99% of those forms are bullshit excuses. The bottom line is you need to sit down and do the work every day, and not worry about whether it’s good or not.
(Incidentally, all those parenthetical excuses are things I say all the time.)
The problem is, the more important the piece of work you’re creating is to you, the more Resistance you’re going to encounter. Messed-up but true. The creative projects that mean the most to us are, paradoxically, the things we are least likely to finish.
I’m a month and a half into my goal of blogging weekly, and I’m already starting to get precious with it. I can’t help it. Because now I’ve established a general vibe for the first entries, a standard to hold myself to, and I’m putting a completely irrational (not to mention unproductive) pressure on myself. Look, you know it’s bad when I’m again relying on the crutch of telling you how much I’m struggling.
But there it is.
I bet you, reading this right now, have a project you’ve been sitting on a long time.
That screenplay idea you’ve been telling people about but haven’t actually written a page of?
That song idea that right now is just half a hook and an image in your head you don’t even really understand?
That app idea that you’d love to do something with but you don’t know the first thing about app technology or how that works?
Yeah, well, stop making excuses and get to work.
Like, right now.
Write an outline for your screenplay, experiment with a chorus for your song, find out who in your life would know things about developing an app and shoot them an email.
This can apply to other things, too, like a long-ignored desire to go bungee-jumping, or to start your own business, or to take a baking class.
Life is short, friends! Do it now! I mean, come on, there has to be some lemonade made from this lemon of a blog entry!
If nothing else, you should know that making things and doing things is not easy. We all face Resistance. Truly, everybody. I face it at least a dozen times every day that I write. Do I get in the flow of writing sometimes? Absolutely. But even once I do, I feel so proud of myself that I take a 20-minute break, after which I’m like, “Oh man. I guess I should start writing again. Lemme just check my email one more time. As a reward.”
Resistance is always there, battling you every step of the way. But it can be beaten. Just set aside some time every day, even if it’s just ten minutes, and do the work. It’s not always going to feel good. Do it anyway.
And, on those inevitable days when Resistance wins, be kind to yourself. (Like me. Today. I am trying to be kind to myself.)
If you do take a step on some project today, let me know! I will happily bug you about it in the future and make you feel guilty if you’re not working on it.
And you can do the same for me! Hooray!
Cue self-loathing spiral.