“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.” says Steven Pressfield, author of ‘The War of Art’. Resistance is the name given to the excuses we make, lies we tell ourselves and the reasons we conjure up to put off our work, promising ourselves we will start tomorrow, only to repeat the same lie the very next day.
Finding comfort in blaming what Pat Riley, former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers referred to as ‘Peripheral Opponents’, instead of starting our work we pass the blame onto spouses, jobs, bosses and any other external force which we can claim is hindering our ability to make a start on the work in front of us. All too often while busy passing the blame, we fail to realize that resistance is a force coming from within.
Although taking many forms, resistance comes to most of us in the form of procrastination. As Pressfield said, “We don’t tell ourselves, I’m never going to write my symphony. Instead we say, I’m going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow”. Something I’m sure anyone who has ever sat down to start an essay can relate to!
When British playwright Somerset Maugham was asked if he wrote only when inspiration struck he agreed and said “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp!” Although upon reading this most of us would think “Good for him but I can’t just make myself feel inspired!” Maugham went on to reveal the secret, that by actually sitting down and making a start on our work, we set in motion a mysterious set of events that, as if by magic, begin to produce inspiration!
As obvious as it may sound, ‘The War of Art’ teaches us that the only sure fire way of beating the resistance we feel is to fight through the urges to put off our work yet again, sit down (as mundane as that sounds!) and make a start. If no matter what, every day, at the same time and for the same duration, we sit down and chip away at the work set in front of us, then we can move away from thinking like an amateur and begin to adopt the mindset of a pro. Resistance will not be beaten easily, if ever, and we must patiently fight against it every day anew, to ensure our work is complete!
As retired U.S Marine and Author, Jocko Willink says, Discipline equals freedom!
Thank you for reading.