Six Reasons Why You and I are Losing the Creative Battle to Resistance

Photo Credit: The Library of Congress (Flickr)

This post came close to never seeing the light of your computer screen.
This blog got a little too close to deletion.
I could invoke the ubiquitous excuse of a busy and overwhelming life, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. Sure, I’ve been busy, but that’s life.

The truth is this: after I published my last post back in July, I fell victim to Resistance.

Steven Pressfield defines this enemy as the “internal self-sabotage that we all face.”  It’s the moment you open your laptop to a blank page but then opt to see what’s trending on Twitter.  It’s the moment you hit snooze and forgo the morning run.  It’s the moment you decide to do the dinner dishes in the morning.

Resistance is a bully, and it pounces upon all of us daily.

I’m a list-maker.  I jot down daily tasks not because I love seeing chores on paper but because I need to stay organized and disciplined.  If you know me even in the slightest, you know that I am unorganized and undisciplined and just plain messy.  I have a reputation for always being late (I’m working on this).  I have the messiest desk in the office.

If I didn’t keep lists, I’d be useless.  I’m the dreamer type, the girl who can easily lose an hour just staring out the window.  Of late, this hasn’t worked for me.  You see, although a dreamer, I’m also highly ambitious and goal-oriented.

Most days, when I climb into bed at night, I feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment that settles heavy on my chest.  And this is solely because most days, I give into Resistance and waste away the hours.

But not anymore.

How many times have I said this?  How many times have you said this?

Be on the lookout for that ever-prowling Resistance.  Here are six of my weak spots where Resistance hit every time I sat down to write a blog post:

1. Avoidance.  I’m the reigning queen of avoidance.  This past Friday I took the GRE exam to prepare for grad school applications due later in the year.  I bought the GRE study book in January, but I didn’t bother to schedule a test date until late July.  That meant roughly two months to study.  And did I study?  Not enough to amount to anything. 
 As long as I don’t think about an upcoming issue, I don’t worry about it.  Even in the week leading up to the exam, I would simply push the studying from my mind and watch a movie or talk to friends or do anything else possible.  It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true.  
2. Distraction.  Enough said.  Whenever I make time to write, I open my laptop only to check Twitter, Facebook, Gmail 50 million times, and then Twitter one more time to make sure I haven’t missed anything.  By this time, it’s time to call it a night.
3. Sloth.  Resistance’s oldest comrade.  Laziness seeps into every difficult situation.  If you’re determined to write every day, you’ll be tempted to take in a few sitcoms after work, meet up with friends for coffee, or even head to bed early.  Sleeping more may improve your health, but it won’t do much good for your soul.
4. Perfectionism.  Is this inherent in all creative types?  As difficult as it is, just create.  Write, play, paint without the critical lens.  Try focusing on quantity rather than quality for a while (and perhaps check out the upcoming NaNoWriMo challenge).  

I write slowly, breathing out each sentence only to inhale and exhale it over and over until I’m satisfied with its cadence.  This is essential in poetry, and this is a must in the final draft of a novel or article, but for most of us, we just need to write.

5. Momentum.  This blog had momentum a few months ago, and then it crashed, a victim of the four above reasons. Momentum sparks something in us.  If I write every night for a month, that’s momentum.  If I carve time out of my schedule to volunteer at the church food pantry weekly, that’s momentum.  Once you’re in motion, you’re less likely to slow down.  

6. Personality.  I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, and I doubt that I’m alone.  If I don’t have a full hour to devote to writing, then I put it off until the next day.  If I don’t have a full hour to exercise, then I push my running shoes underneath the bed.  I don’t think in 15 minute sprints and 20 minute writing exercises.  I need grand gestures to prove myself.

In moments like this, I need to remind myself that any amount of time is beneficial.

This post is my one step in defiance of Resistance today.
How do you battle Resistance in your life?  In what ways do you see this self-sabotage?