Steve Pressfield blogged this week about dealing with writers block - a bad block - while addressing some notes from a friend.
And it pushed a button in my head. He wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, among other things, but he also wrote The War of Art and Turning Pro.
In these really heartfelt books he talks through his life-long battle against The Resistance.
The force in all of us that stops us doing something that might change us.
The Resistance always arrives when we're trying to do something difficult.
And something difficult is always something that makes us or the world around us better.
These are the books...
... but he wanted to know if he should blog any more about this block:
Our response to this moment, I believe, is what separates the pros from the amateurs. An amateur at this juncture will fold. She’ll balk, she’ll become defensive, she’ll dig in her heels and refuse to alter her work. I can’t tell you how close I came to doing exactly that.
The pro somehow finds the strength to bite the bullet. The process is not photogenic. It’s a bloodbath.
For me, the struggle is far from over. I’ve got weeks and weeks to go before I’m out of the woods and, even then, I may have to repeat this regrouping yet again.
[NOTE TO READER: Shall I continue these “reports from the trenches?” I worry that this stuff is too personal, too specific. Is it boring? Write in, friends, and tell me to stop if this isn’t helpful.
This is my reply.
No idea if this email will even reach you. Though, to be honest I kind of hope you're not wasting your time looking for validation like I am working hard to avoid doing.
But please know this.
I came across War Of Art via Seth Godin. I can't tell you how much its helped me in the last year.
It helped me find my own way of articulating good and evil, art and not art, action and inertia.
Most of all it makes me smile now when I feel my muscles lactating - all I've got to do is type up something I've bloomin written by hand, but instead I'm checking my email and there you are.
Its a cartoon - a ten minute cartoon that won't feed my family this month and yet you'd think that'd be even more incentive for me to do the rewrite (that I've already done by hand) as quickly as possible.
For a year I have taken the Resistance seriously - as a sign of the stuff that matters to me.
Because you articulated it, sure but the example of saying it out loud is even more of an invitation to come out to play as an artist.
So please write - and publish - in volume about specifically why your freeze is dumb and not worthy so we can laugh with you. Its incredibly generous.
My son is 8. And my daughter is 6.
She paints, sings dances and writes with absolute abandon.
He rolls on the floor with rage rather than doing something difficult, which is always something that might elevate him.
So watching TV and playing with Granddad's PlayStation is not a problem.
Your work means I can give him a hug and commiserate with his freeze.
And practice dancing around the block.
And teach him to be kinder on himself.
And instead have a go at something he does feel like doing.
That makes him happy (proper happy, not quick hit time killer happy).
Talking through why he wants to do, but can't, always seems to help.
And "tell me what you're grateful for now" always seems to help too (even when the answer is "farting").
I'm rambling because wanting to help him is a way to avoid helping myself.
But maybe we can show each other by example rather than cajoling.
Anyway, selfishly, pile into the blog - the next good work will always be there for you.
Why do you want to complete the next rewrite?
I'm sure you have 50 reasons the Resistance won't stop you expressing.
Got points. BACK OFF. My idea for a rear window banner to stop people driving up our bum #DadDirt
All about me, and getting these by email.