The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Have you ever wondered why so many of us have secret dreams that we never even get started on? A friend of mine once confessed to me that she wanted to be an actor. She’d never taken a drama class and was nearing 30 at the time. She’d been chasing a ‘real job’ for a while but her heart wasn’t in it. I suggested she get into some acting classes or audition for student films to get started. She never followed up and kept pursuing the ‘real job’ market until she was hired into a desk job.
The War of Art is a short book but it delves deeply into the root of procrastination. Pressfield calls the forces that hold us back from creating and working on our true passion projects the Resistance.
I’m intrigued by motivation and its often illusive presence in my life. I’ve had years of working out ingrained into my DNA. There has rarely been a time in my life when I haven’t been in shape enough to run 10 kilometers. Getting to a Crossfit class or out for a run isn’t a big problem for me. Getting small boring life tasks done, or buckling down when I have a two hour baby free window to write, are problems for me.
Pressfield was an unsuccessful writer for a few decades before his novel The Legend of Bagger Vance took off and was eventually turned into a movie. It took him a long time to overcome the Resistance he describes.
I went to film school five years ago for screenwriting. In the year after finishing the program I received a writing fellowship, had a short film produced and had an article published in a magazine (and was paid for it!). Then I got a desk job, got married and had a baby. I left the creative writing shelved because life was busy. I zoned out in front of the television most evenings. When I found a speck of motivation to write and I found a larger speck of motivation to clean.
The quote at the top of this post really spoke to me. It’s normal to be scared when you are pursuing a passion. I once had a short script debut at a local reading series. A group of actors were cast and read my script in front of an audience of 100+ people. I have never in my life felt so nervous and sick about an event. Not even before an international rowing race. In sport you have control over your performance. In art you send your piece out into the world and then watch and wait.
In 2011 I want to conquer the Resistance. It’s already started. I’ve been writing query letters to magazines for a few weeks. I’ve even received some nice rejection emails. As my sister says, if you don’t ask the answer is always no.
In 2011 I want to ingrain writing into my DNA. Just like I check off five or six workouts a week, I now want to check off 15 to 20 hours of focused writing a week.
What do you want to fight the Resistance for in 2011?