Why it's hard to do what you love.
Why is it that the very thing we long to do the most, is often hardest to face? A blank page, a fresh canvas, an empty vase? There are roadblocks in every creative endeavour - that thing inside that keeps you terrified of getting to work. I never knew what this was called, this obstacle that kept me procrastinating from creating art.
Then one day last year, I was handed a book called "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. Life changer. The foe we must face is called Resistance, and this book is amazing at inspiring and outlining action to overcome it. Now, I recommend that everyone go and read this book immediately. Short of that, I've compiled a list of my favourite quotes from the book in this post. Hopefully this will be enough to get you started. I can guarantee I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't read this book, it seriously helped me to identify and get past so much of what was holding me back in my art. So please, have a read and let me know what you think!
"The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.
Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
Resistance will unfailingly point true North - meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it. The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work. Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work. Don't do it. If you're doing it, stop.
We do not overidentify with our jobs. We may take pride in our work, we may stay late and come in on weekends, but we recognise that we are not our job descriptions. The amateur, on the other hand, overidentifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration. He defines himself by it. He is a musician, a painter, a playwright. Resistance loves this. Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and overterrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously is paralyses him.The professional keeps his eye on the donut and not on the hole. He reminds himself it's better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.
After rejection or failure... "Then be happy. You're where you wanted to be aren't you? So you're taking a few blows. That's the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful." - that was when I realised I had become a pro. I had not yet had a success. But I had had a real failure.
Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it? If you're all alone on the planet, a hierarchical orientation makes no sense. There's no one to impress. So, if you'd still pursue that activity, congratulations."