28 May 2011

Creativity, Resistance, and Fear

Writers are creative people. Of course, we aren’t the only ones. People are creative people. Except we aren’t always as creative as we want to be; as we feel, deep down, that we can be. There are as many reasons for this as there have been people. Probably more. There are many books, movies, articles, and art about getting past the fear that stops us. Two of the books are by Steven Pressfield. I got Do the Work as a free Kindle edition, then went out and the hard copies of both Do the Work and The War of Art. Why? Because these books are life changing.

We’ve all experienced some type of creative block. We have all ducked our creative natures for TV, housework, sleep. Procrastination has killed more cat stories than curiosity ever thought about. We all know we procrastinate, we joke about it. But it’s easier to stop a speeding locomotive than to get ourselves past that to the stuff that we want to do.

Pressfield calls this block “resistance,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. Like the resistance against movement in a swimming pool, or the resistance when you try to push together the same poles of a magnet. His books name this enemy and tells us, all creative people, how to fight resistance and do “our work”—the thing that is creative or that will advance us physically, spiritually, morally, ethically, etc.

Some memorable quotes, for me at least, from Do the Work are:

“Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

“Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.”

“Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.”

How to get past resistance?

“Forget rational thought. Play. Play like a child.”

And the opposite of resistance? Assistance.

“Assistance is the universal, immutable force of creative manifestation, whose role since the Big Bang has been to translate potential into being to convert dreams into reality.”


“When we experience panic it means we’re about to cross a threshold. We’re posed on the doorstep of a higher plane.”

And before you start thinking of me as a Pressfield fanatic (OK, a little), let me point out that he is far from the only person with a book about blocked creativity. There are many. Another life changing one for me is Ralph Keyes’s The Courage to Write. This book is in large part responsible for my being a published author. Some of my favorite quotes from this book are:

“Writers by definition talk behind other people’s backs.”

“Before they can convey honest feeling to others, writers must be honest with themselves.”

“Its psychic demands make writing an exercise in courage little different from climbing a sheer granite cliff or skiing down a steep slope.”

And my absolute favorite”

“If you’re not scared, you’re not writing.”

Have a great, creative weekend!

Post a Comment