Writing is war. According to Steven Pressfield who wrote the brilliant book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Problems, Resistance (with a capital R) is the inner enemy. This implacable enemy will attempt to stop you from writing or from engaging in any other worthwhile endeavor.
“Resistance is insidious. Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work . . . . It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man” (p.9).
Your resistance to your writing is fueled by your fear of success.
“We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are . . . . We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us” (ibid. p.143).
What if you could succeed? That could mean leaving your old life behind. Resistance appears immediately and acts like an old friend who says, “Relax; don’t make any sudden changes; hang out with me.”
“The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell . . .” (ibid, p.68).
Resistance is guaranteed to torture you daily if you do the work of writing. Sometimes, it will torture you moment by moment. Why sign up for hell? Because you’re one of the few, the proud, the writing marines? Probably not a good motivator. But why sign up for hell? Because you’re already signed up. Your mind is hardwired for resistance. Pressfield believes resistance is impersonal. He believes it is a force of nature that acts objectively and is universal in humankind.
But is this the whole story? Is the mental hardwiring archetypal? Does resistance to writing (and resistance to life) emanate from a deeper source – archetypal evil? The instrumental notes of the theme song for the ancient TV series The Twilight Zone are now playing: da-da, da-da; da-da, da-da. (See my upcoming article, “Resistance to Writing and Archetypal Evil.)
Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Hoesly at Flickr Creative Commons.