Resistance is Futile

Resistance to the creative process can be overwhelming.

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, he wrote another book I haven’t read yet, 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 easy, you just 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 the 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 blog.

There is no more pressure than the second entry in a 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.

608 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, my friends, is the truest thing I know.

Author: Tom Being Tom

Tom writes a blog. When he’s not doing that he’s usually hanging out with Mrs C, his wife of 20 years. Together, they have two beautiful, golden boys. Literally. The retriever kind. Tom recently started a novel and is a member of one of the largest social groups known to man.

His worldview was formed by the strange intermingling of comic book superheroes, socioeconomic politics, the Air Coryell offense, and an atheistic spiritual awakening.

He intends to save the world next Thursday.

20 thoughts on “Resistance is Futile”

  1. Imagine what it would have been like if Einstein didn’t do the work because no one in his time was able to verify its correctness and brilliance? Doing the work is what separates the extraordinary from the mundane. The Universe does not reward sloth.

    Well done my brother.

    1. It is a real thing, resistance. It has stopped me from accomplishing more than I care to admit, but here’s the key: never let resistance impede you from passion. It’s okay to let slide the things that don’t REALLY matter to you, if they are not urgent to either you or your current livelihood, but it is not okay to put off the passions. It is a denial of one’s potential to say the least.

      Thank you for reading, my brother!

  2. Great article and message Tom. You really have a talent for writing. A reminder of what motivates and not to give up. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for reading, Sharyn! I really appreciate the kindness and the kind words along with it. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed writing – or doing anything – this much. I promise to continue!

    1. You are welcome, Danette! Thank you for checking it out, I really appreciate it! As hard as this one was to put to paper (so to speak) I jumped up and did a little office dance after. Don’t tell anyone. 😉

  3. Tom, I have always found writing therapeutic. The opportunity to communicate at a pace where true thought can be projected into a dialogue appeals to me much more than the often-times blurted spoken word.

    Your term “Resistance” is an interesting choice. I once read a stellar magazine article about what the author coined “Finishing Fear”. As in the fear of finishing as opposed to abolishing fear altogether. The message was that we all experience fear of others judging our work. We hear it all the time, “I’m not finished with it yet”, or “It’s still got some details to work out”. It is a prophylactic strike against judgement, as in “I know it’s not perfect but that’s because I’m not done.”

    I see this fear as merely an element of what you are describing.

    Thoughtful blog. I liked it.

    1. Thank you, Al! I really appreciate you giving it a read, and for a very thoughtful response to it. “Finishing Fear” is a real thing. I never read the article you mentioned but I have experienced it first hand. I’ve always meant to write but there’s truly a million reasons not to. Some of them are incredibly silly, but real. Now I try to recognize fear and do whatever I have to in order to push past it. So far, so good. 🙂

      And as for the blurted-out word … I’m pretty guilty of that, too. 😉

  4. I knew you were smart, but you are even more talented than I could have imagined. I mean, I have seen pictures with the mullet. 👍

    1. Best laugh of the day! Thank you, Kathie, for reading it! And about them pictures … some very talented people once wore mullets … didn’t they? 😉

  5. I love the write the one thing that is the truest thing you know.
    I need to remember that.
    Proud of you for persevering and writing to write, sharing your wisdoms and going from there.

    1. Thank you, Danielle! I’ve been keeping a private journal since the summer of ’12 and whenever I don’t feel like writing I remember that quote. The practice has done me good over the years. Thank you for reading!

  6. It’s interesting how you say writing is making you notice the world more. I took a watercolor art class in under grad as an elective and it changed the way I saw everything! I would see a sunset and wonder how I could paint it. A picture in a magazine, a colorful pack pack and I would concentrate on what colors I would mix with how much water could produce those same results. Or could I? Water colors are a very unforgiving art form but any kind of art, like your writing, inspires the soul of the brain to search for more. Congrats my friend! I can’t wait for more!

    1. Thanks for sharing that! “Or could I?” is resistance in action. The trick is always persevering through the resistance and doing the work. If the passion is there the work must be done!

      Mrs C is an avid painter who is inactive in her art right now. I would love to see her get back to the work of following passion.

      Thank you for reading, Christy, I really appreciate it!

  7. Nicely done Tom! For many I think resistance is fear. Depending upon the individual, either fear of failure or fear of success.

    1. Both are valid fears, Kimmie, I agree! I remember mornings where the ONLY thing I wanted to do was write but I STILL found a hundred other things to stop me. The struggle is real!

      Thanks for reading and responding; it means a lot to me!

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