For the last 36 days writing has been easy. I get up on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning – right around 5:30 a.m. – and I start writing. Usually within 30 minutes I have a rough draft and usually within another 30 I have a finished piece. Some days the whole process takes less than thirty minutes, sometimes a good deal over an hour. Never do the words get in the way, and never does the page stay white.
Today is different.
I’m measuring every word and counting every syllable. I’m considering the implications of every sentence. It’s agony.
I just finished a wonderful book on the subject of overcoming barriers to creativity called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He says it’s all about resistance, which is just that little voice in all of us that tells us we cannot succeed. We’re not any good. We don’t have the time. Nobody cares. The problem with resistance, I say, is that most of the time it’s right. Most of the time we will not succeed, most of the time we’re not good enough, most of the time there is something more urgent to do and most of the time nobody cares.
The gist of his argument is that, even so, do the work.
In fact, his second book – which I have not read – is called Do The Work.
Ernest Hemingway once famously said that overcoming writer’s block is as simple as writing one true sentence, write one thing that is the truest thing you know, and then write another. Ernest and Steven had the same idea: in order to write today, when the words do not come unbidden, you have to start to write. Do the work. Even if all that comes out is drivel, do the work. Genius comes from effort, and resistance is right 100% of the time we do not give effort.
So I’m writing. I’m writing like I have for the last 36 days and I’m writing about the things I love. I’m writing about writing, about reading, about time, and about life. The only difference between today and the last twenty times I sat down to do this is that at the conclusion of this work it becomes the second entry in my live blog.
There is no more pressure than the second entry in a live blog.
On the first entry you get a free pass; everyone wants you to succeed. By the tenth entry you’ve gained the followers you are going to gain, if any, and you’ve gotten into stirring up controversies and really speaking your mind. Oh, but that second entry …
I had it in my mind today to talk about the absurd state of modern American politics, the differences in my mental and physical state after a weeklong cleanse, or how much more I notice in the world around me now that I am following my passion, but those were not the words that came. Resistance came, instead. So I wrote one true thing about resistance, and then I wrote another.
I just did the work.
607 words later I have this, a blog about blogging. I hope it says more than I think it does. I hope it says something about how important it is to find passion, to follow passion, and to do whatever it takes every day to overcome the barriers to passion. I hope I’ve moved someone.
If I didn’t I’ll try again on Tuesday. And then again on Thursday. And then again next Saturday. I won’t give up because resistance already won the last four decades and I won’t let it win again.
And that, is the truest thing I know.