Your One & Only Obstacle: Part I – Know Thy Enemy
“Hitler wanted to be an artist…Ever see one of his paintings?
Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway:
It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank canvas.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
(I was wondering if I should start with something a little less intense, but you know what? If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right. Let’s talk FEAR.)
Resistance. A block. The inner critic. It goes by many names, but what is it?
It’s the thing that whispers to you that you can’t. That it’s a stupid idea. That you should give up.
It’s the thing that stops you from doing whatever it is you most want to—need to—do.
It’s sneaky, it’s vicious, and, as our buddy Steven says, “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.”
To kill your hopes, your dreams, and by extension, your very soul.
It’s fear, and if you don’t stop it, it will win.
In fact, it probably has already.
If you think it hasn’t, take a moment to consider all the sneaky, subtle ways fear worms its way into your life and prevents you from chasing your dreams.
“I’m just so busy right now. I’ll work on it when I finish school/things calm down at work/the kids are older/I have more time/etc.”
“I’m not ready yet—I need to take this class/practice this skill/talk to a pro/(insert additional preparatory activity here).”
“I don’t have the time/money/skills/resources/connections to do it yet.”
The problem is that these will all sound super legitimate. They’re extremely convincing because they are so realistic. Should you really start working on that screenplay right before the baby’s born? Is it actually the best idea to be editing a novel when you’re working two jobs?
Fear promises you’ll get to it someday, and that’s enough to placate you, to make you feel like you’re not really giving up—you’re just putting it off. Just until tomorrow. Next week. The end of the semester. When the kids go back to school. Sometime more reasonable than now.
But “someday” is a dangerous thing. I wish I knew the source of the quote, but regardless of who said it, it’s absolutely true:
“There are seven days in the week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”
If you keep letting fear convince you to put things off, you will never do them.
Life is always happening, and it’s always a bad time, and if you let the fear convince you that you’ll do it “later” then you are never going to get to it. You have to do it despite all the obstacles—there will never be another time.
Don’t believe me? That’s OK.
Believe JK Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the subway, at the café, and in whatever little snatches of time she could find between working full time, being a single mother to an infant, and mourning the very recent death of her beloved mother.
Or Chris Gardener, author of The Pursuit of Happyness, who managed to be a top performer at his company while struggling with homelessness and caring for his toddler son…also as a single parent.
Want a less uplifting example? Ask almost anyone you know. Ask them what their dream was, and if they followed it. If the answer is “No,” ask them why.
It all boils down to fear.
Am I saying you need to write the next great American novel RIGHT NOW? And you need to do it while your house being repossessed? No, of course not.
But spending even ten minutes with your project every day, despite your busy schedule? That would be pretty awesome.
By the way, I don’t want you to feel bad about being scared. Of course you’re scared. Creating, doing, that stuff is terrifying. I’m scared. We’re all scared, together. It’s OK.
Just recognize that the only reason you’re not where you want to be already is because fear has, thus far, been allowed to hold you back. And it will continue to do so if you don’t fight it.
So now I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the battle against fear is never-ending. You have to get up every single day and fight the good fight. It’s a war you don’t so much win as hold at bay.
The good news is, as an ongoing battle, it’s never too late to join the fight.
And next week, we’re going to talk about how. Happy writing!
And don`t forget to try your writing on Widbook