A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...
cre•a•tiv•i•ty : the ability to make new things or think of new ideas
The topic of creativity fascinates me. It is majestic and universal; everyone has an inner creative genius. That we have access to this could be our greatest gift.
In one of my favorite books on creativity, the War of Art, author Steven Pressfield describes the perils of resistance to this gift. Basically, resistance--otherwise known as writer’s block, self-sabotage, distraction, procrastination--or in some cases addiction--is everything we do to block our own access to our creative gifts or goals. Whenever we intend to embark on something innovative or artistic, or even simply attempt to create a new and healthy habit, resistance can rear its ugly head. The author even goes so far as to say that yielding to resistance deforms the spirit.
This leaves me regretful of how much space I have allowed Resistance--with a capital R--in my own writing life. I keep returning to Pressfield’s book, and again and again, I recognize myself in his pages. Like many (most?) writers, I’ve yielded to resistance too many times to count.
On a good writing day, I have that feeling of I get to write! I disappear into that divine writing abyss, my words uncensored and untamed (there’s a time for editing later!) I am enjoying the process even when it’s hard. In those moments when the words come easily, or when they don’t and a struggle produces the right word or sentence or page, the journey is sweet. At the end of those days comes the fulfillment of having written.
But when Resistance visits, it can stop me in my tracks; a distraction, an indulgence, a shiny new project, or simply fear, sitting beside me, casting a shadow on my motivation. Is it dramatic to say it deforms the spirit? If we are talking a day or a week of Resistance, then yes, perhaps that’s dramatic. But over the course of a month or a decade or a lifetime, if we aren’t careful, Resistance could derail us right out of our own best plans. If that doesn’t injure the spirit, what does?
We all know that doing something new, or finishing what we’ve started, even if it’s for the best, requires bypassing that well-worn groove our old habits have created in our brain, in order to continue on our chosen path. These samskaras as they are called in yoga, are deeply embedded patterns and they typically don’t change easily.
The path of a writing project can be steep and muddy, thick with brush, a tangle of overgrowth. When I haven’t been here before, the first hundred steps are difficult, prickly and tiring. It requires so much energy, so much of my will. When I stick with it, eventually, there is momentum.
But the next day requires moving through Resistance yet again; to start again, to dive into the stillness and poke around, to move forward. To do this though, to write through the blocks, to ignore the distractions, to make friends with fear, eventually brings the whole landscape into view.
Routine. Momentum. A path chosen and followed.
Returning, day after day.
Victory over Resistance, a spirit soars.