“Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it.” ~ Steven Pressfield
I have a confession…
Several agents are interested in my current work-in-progress, a somewhat dark fantasy romance. You’d think I would have had the requested synopsis and three chapters zipping along the internet, wouldn’t you?
Sadly, no. In the last two months, I don’t think I’ve given more than an hour to that novel.
Yes, holiday prep and travel ate up a lot of my time. So did all the writing, teaching and coaching of my business. And yet…
There were small chunks of time I could have written a few pages of a scene or edited a few pages of a chapter. And I even carried my novel notebook from home to Virginia in the car, from Virginia to Los Angeles on the plane, and back again. And I didn’t write one word.
I did write some goals and plans for my business. And I read about writing. But I didn’t write…even a few sentences.
Well, for all the reasons above and a few more that can all get bundled into what Pressfield and others call Resistance.
Think of resistance as that wall between you and your connection to and engagement in your creative work—-a long, tall, thick wall that stretches from your left horizon to your right with you on one side and your work, uncompleted, on the other.
Most creatives experience this wall of resistance, not just once, but over and over again with each new project, and even with each new part of a project. So, how do we get past the wall?
- Go under the wall. Like a dog seeking freedom on the other side of the fence that is keeping him in, you can dig underneath the wall. That is, you have to dig deeply into what lies beneath the resistance. Usually it is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the level of work, time, energy, or commitment involved. Once you dig deep enough to identify the fear, you can acknowledge it, deal with it and get to the freedom of doing your work.
- Go over the wall. Sometimes you need to go up and over. Your ladder could be getting away from the work long enough to get some perspective on it and the wall. A retreat, a workshop, or a simple if brief vacation, could help you identify a way over or through the wall that you can’t see from where you are.
- Go through the wall. You know this is the hardest, right? In fact, you may have a lingering headache from using your head as a battering ram to break through that wall. If you are going to go through the wall, at least don’t injure yourself in the process. Try chipping away at it. That means setting up small goals like “I’ll just write three sentences, or one page.” Or, it means doing a little research on some aspect of your project, or working on some part that is fun. Chip, chip, chip. Little by little, until you’ve broken through enough of the wall to squeeze through to your work. Just be prepared for this to take time.
- Get some help. I’ve stressed this often enough, but in case you need the reminder, ask for help. Consider partnering with a friend or colleague whose creative work is similar to yours and agree to hold each other accountable. Or hire a coach to help you work under, over or through that wall, someone to help you dig, or hold the ladder, or chip away at the wall with you.
Whatever your approach, become aware of where you are letting the wall of resistance keep you from doing the work you are meant to do…
The work that you love.