Saturday, July 6, 2013

Resistance is futile?

It is time for me to re-read the War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.

He is an author I would not ordinarily choose to read.  His books are about military stuff and wars.  He is an ex-marine after all.  According to his bio, he was made an honorary citizen of Sparta--for what that may say about him.

But I have read the War of Art, and it is time for me to read it again.  From the introduction:
There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this:  It's not the writing part that's hard.  What's hard is sitting down to write.

That is really no secret.  It is not that I have not been doing things.  I have, but I still have a nagging feeling of being stuck, of spinning wheels.  Spinning wheels is an apt image.  It is my mind that is spinning, and that means that I am not fully present with what I may be doing.

It affects everything.  I cook a meal and everything on the plate is the same color.  I don't enjoy the meal.  I sit down to do some sewing and I get distracted by re-organizing patterns or fabric scraps.  Sit down to write...well, I am at the computer and what would be the harm in checking out Pinterest and Facebook and e-mail, and blogs, and a shopping site or two...time to go make another uninspired meal.  I read a book and think I am enjoying it.  The next day, I cannot tell you one thing about it.

Pressfield calls the problem RESISTANCE, a toxic force that sets in when we have an artistic urge, an urge for self-improvement of a physical or a spiritual nature, and urge to learn something new or to do something good ("anything that derives from our higher nature").

I call it lack of attention.  I think Oprah would call it lack of INTENTION.

I recall feeling that Pressfield was kind of an over bloated ass about a lot of things.  It irritates me that the imagery of something as hateful as war is used to encourage creativity and spiritual growth.  But...does that make him entirely wrong?  He is a military man expressing himself in the vocabulary he knows.

I can see a struggle between resistance and intention, but metaphor other than war might apply.

I intend to re-read this book looking for valid points that I can translate into my own vocabulary, my own world view.

AND...in a complete flight of fantasy...I write my own book and get invited to appear on the Oprah network to promote it.

12 comments:

  1. I call it writer's block when you sit down to write but can't write a single word. That's what happened to me when I tried to write my Master's thesis. The words just couldn't come. And yet, look at me now -- writing a blog every day! Go figger. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I define it as being uninspired -- where there is no motivation to do anything.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmmmm... Lack of intention? I am now struggling with having to finish the photo albums of our trips to China and the Canyons. It requires so much concentration, but I am continuously distracted. And here I am visiting when I should be working. Arrrghhh...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the thing...dont think about what you "should" be doing and be present in what you ARE doing and enjoy it. That is the state I am trying to reach.

      Delete
  4. You mean we aren't supposed to feel this way?? I have had a dose of that very same feeling lately and blamed it on the weather. Here it has been so darn nice that all I want to do is lollygag around. Guess I had better dig a little deeper??.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It seems a lot of folks are having similar feelings based on the blogs I've been reading. I know there are times when I end the day thinking what have I accomplished?
    I believe we put a lot of emphasis on doing, rather than being. In the rush to get things done, we lose touch with our creative side because it takes thought, and thoughtfulness.
    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't under rate war. For all our talk of how we despise war, we are in love with it. Every so often we have to dip our toes in it to remind ourselves just how horrible it is. It probably is one of the few endeavors of mankind that allow one to fully be in the moment, along with news of one's impending hanging, as Samuel Johnson noted. When you are in a fight to the death, worries about termites, taxes, diabetes, or weight gain fall to the side and a very in the moment desire to live is the only thing on your mind. People who have been in wars often talk of the exhilaration of battle.

    For about 6 weeks after 9-11, I remember of sleeping very well. At first it concerned me. Thousands of people lost their lives to a terrorist event, thousands more lost a loved one, and I start sleeping good for the first time in 20 years. What the hell is wrong with me? Then it occurred to me, I wasn't sleeping good because I took some perverse pleasure in the loss of life and the horrific grief, I was sleeping good because all the stupid bullshit that I occupied my life with, meetings, shipping dates, bills to pay, when am I going to get a raise, red lights, petty grievances, and various fears and dislikes were put into perspective...none of that stuff really means anything. Flight 93 passed within 20 miles of my home and work and crashed a few minutes later in Shanksville. It could have just as easily crashed into my home and killed my wife and son. In a tragedy that killed and destroyed the lives of thousands, my wife, my son and I came out unscathed. I slept good for six weeks and then slowly but surely the old stupid bullshit, the stuff that really doesn't matter, like worms began to re-infest my brain. Haven't really had a good night's sleep since.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You said it. I can so relate. I think you have been reading my mind. Intention. I need that. I suffer from resistance. I have actually been talking to myself about that recently. Thanks for making me feel less alone.

    P.S. I look forward to seeing you on Oprah. Get cranking on that book. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'll buy your book. Oprah or no. I like this post. I know that spinning too. One thing I have learned is that you don't need hours and hours to write. You just need little bits of time, as long as they add up. My advice. Turn off the email and use a timer. Write u til the timer goes off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a very good suggestion. i will give it a try.

      Delete
  9. Olga - good luck with Oprah! I call your feeling "taking a break."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting. When I was a teacher, at the end of the semester, when I desperately needed to be grading papers, I wanted nothing more than to cook and clean house. As soon as the pressure of the year's end was over, I lost all interest in being domestic. I think we all tend to seek equilibrium. If you're having to drive yourself to write, take a break from writing. It works for me.

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.