Resistance, resistance…oh how I hate thee! Insidious monster that crawls out from under the furniture to claw me away from my art studio. You distract me with all things left undone, dust bunnies in the corner, laundry lying in piles on the basement floor, weeds in the yard that threaten to take over, the list goes on and on. You hide in the shadows working your evil magic doing all you can to keep me from my beloved art! Oh how I wish I could banish you to depths from which you came!
That may sound a little overly dramatic but on the artist’s journey one of the biggest challenges faced is the demon resistance. Pretty much anyone who has ever picked up a pen to write, or an instrument to learn or a brush to paint has felt resistance. That thing that just wants to keep you from getting at your craft and will throw just about any obstacle in your path.
In his book, “The War of Art”, Steven Pressfield says this about resistance, “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill…when we fight it, we are in a war to the death”. Sounds pretty scary doesn’t it? What is most frightening is that resistance isn’t the demon hiding in the shadows dragging you away from you artistic endeavors, resistance comes from within us!
Resistance is the ego it doesn’t mean to be harmful and thinks it is actually protecting you. The ego says, “what if you spend all that time writing that book and no one wants to read it, you will be devastated and look at all the wasted time. It is best just not to start.” If paint is your medium ego says, “why would you waste all that time and money on canvas you know you can’t make anything good, people will laugh at your paintings. It is best just not to start.” Logical arguments perhaps but do we have to listen? Is your first book going to be published? It probably won’t but I bet you just love to write and the more you do the better you will get. Will you paint a masterpiece on your first try, definitely not but that is how you learn. In an effort to keep us safe the ego, with its resistance tactics, can sound pretty smart but we are smarter!
So what do we do about resistance, how do we kick it to the curb? It isn’t easy and it isn’t a battle quickly won, it’s going to take you a while, but it is also the most triumphant win! Here are some tips to help you slay the dragon resistance:
Develop a consistent creative practice, daily if at all possible.
This can be challenging and some days downright impossible but the more consistent you get the less space there is for resistance. Setting aside a specific time, even just 10 minutes a day, is one of the most effective things you can do to overcome resistance. Is there really anything that can’t wait just for 10 minutes?
Avoid comparison at all costs!
This is so important!!! In the internet age we have access to so much inspiration this can be a double edged sword because while it can inspire you it can also bring up feelings of inferiority that play right into ego’s game. If you must look for inspiration but find comparison an issue I recommend looking at the works of the great masters from long ago. What could be more inspiring than looking at the work of a Michelangelo or Botticelli or perhaps the more approachable work of Van Gogh or Monet. We logically tend not to compare ourselves to them like we would a contemporary posting on Pinterest or on her blog.
Surround yourself with others who get what you are doing.
This is another benefit of the internet, there are people right at your fingertips that feel the same way you do about your art! Find others who are in the same place as you, who get what you are trying to do and who will encourage you to keep up the fight. A little moral support goes a long way! Just remember no comparison.
Resistance must be fought, never stop fighting and never give up! If resistance stands in the doorway of your art studio kick it out of the way, if resistance is the well-meaning but misguided relative or spouse thank them for their concern and tell them you are not looking for input. If resistance is hiding in your mile long to do list tell it to just give you 10 minutes. In the end, if you stay strong, resistance must give way!
To sum this all up I want to leave you with the quote below:
“Self doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art