You, Too, So Watch Out
If You Have Work You Love
If You Have Work You Love
Resistance is out to get me. Do the Work! and The War of Art, both by Steven Pressfield, warned me how insidious it is. Today, I am determined to fight the malevolent Resistance, and it’s putting on a show to rival the Fourth of July fireworks I will see tonight.
Cool, damp air beckoned me outside at 7 a.m., the perfect time for summer gardening. Stories were running through my head, so I took Pressfield’s advice and put a small notepad and pen in the back pocket of my Levi’s—no pencil because I figured I surely would get stabbed in the butt. I gave air and light to weed-choked perennials and paused from time to time to jot down a few phrases. I felt accomplished because while I played in the dirt, I also wrote.
The morning progressed quietly; the family was in New Hampshire, and not expected to return until later in the afternoon. My foot was poised to step into my room and write when shrieks ricocheted off the latched door downstairs. Desperate to use the facilities after a two-hour drive, my arriving family almost tore the door off its hinges. “Desperate” doesn’t do it justice: There would have been blood if we had only one bathroom.
I recovered from that shock and longed for my time at the keyboard, but listened to their weekend in review. I ate breakfast. At an opportune time, I sneaked away to start my laundry. I would finally begin writing while it was washing. I offered to wash my daughter Tarah’s black Apple business team shirt because I was doing a dark load. “Thanks,” she said, “as long as it’s dry in time for me to go to work.” No way would it take three hours, so her shirt joined the rest of the darks.
Ah… time to write. I started my story—about garbage, trash on the curb, rotting matter, junk, items that require disposal. I got a good start, after, of course, checking e-mail and Facebook, listening to voicemail, and answering a phone call. All Resistance with a capital R.
Keyboard time arrived at last. I remembered some notes from earlier, but typed them quickly because I didn’t want to go downstairs again for my notebook. I completed a page and then my other daughter Vee called. She recently spent nine days in a 24-hour-a-day futile effort to save a too-tiny puppy. She is mourning, so I took the call. The call ended and I wrote another paragraph, but it was time to put the wash in the dryer. I pressed save and trotted down the two flights of stairs to the basement.
“Huh? What’s this? Must have been a tissue in my pocket,” I mused as I saw huge chunks of white fluff on the clothes. My waterlogged pen was the next thing I retrieved from the washer. I then remembered the notebook—now dissolved and splotching every square inch of the darks. “Uh, oh.” Tarah’s work polo looked like a papier-mâché project on black cloth. I shook everything—hard—and put most of the load into the dryer, hoping for a lint-trap rescue. The blackest items went back in the washer with a prayer that the bulk of the paper would wash off.
I trotted back up two flights of stairs to resume writing. I got two more paragraphs into “Garbage” when my phone rang. I checked the ID and noted it was my other daughter who’s caring for the house in Florida while I’m in MA. “I’ll make this quick,” I thought. Hysterical cries seared my left eardrum. “I have a migraine,” she wailed. Problems of other sorts abounded as well. Mommy response runs deep in my veins. I could not, would not, hang up with the words, “You know, I’m writing right now. Can you save this for later?”
Fifteen minutes passed, I ended the call, and returned to writing. Knock knock on my door. Tarah wanted to discuss home renovations.
“Groan. This is Resistance!” I said to myself. “This is the real Resistance.” I knew its face well after reading Pressfield’s book yesterday. It is insidious. It will do anything to keep me from my work, my real work, my life work. I was determined to fight it even though this is when I usually give up, when I say, “Forget it. Why bother trying to write?” This is when I usually go scrub a floor, do another load of laundry, wash dishes, or, why not, check e-mail for the twentieth time. Not today. But… time to check the wash… again.
I removed about a quart of white stuff so the dryer’s lint-trap magic was working. I checked the washer and, blessed relief, the black polo is black; all the black clothes are black. I decided the lint trap would eat anything that remains, so into the hot dryer they went to spin dry and spit off the balance of the lint. Tarah’s shirt was ready in time. I finally accomplished something—no writing, but life, err… Resistance calls.
I again exercised my calves trotting back up the two flights of stairs, sat at the keyboard, and pondered Resistance. The phone rang again. Hysterical daughter is doing better; the migraine is now a simple headache. I put off discussions of travel to conferences and new tires and said, “I really have to get off the phone now.”
I wrote. I wrote about Resistance. If I didn’t believe Pressfield before, I do now. It’s more than just the internal stuff—the voice that says I suck at writing, I’m no good at this, I’ll never be a success. I put the internal stuff on mute yesterday when I committed to writing today. I would ignore the wretched voices that belittle and damage me and keep me from my work. I won that particular Resistance battle.
Resistance, however, used different tactics today—external ones. People clamored for my attention, crises of the family kind engaged me, laundry beckoned me, papier-mâché projects on black clothing vacuumed up my time.
In ten minutes, the dryer will be done. In another five minutes, my plunging blood sugar level will signal that it’s time to eat. In a few more phrases, this story will be near completion. The ongoing battle with Resistance, however, will never be over. In the future, I will look for Resistance not only within, but also without. Resistance is in here, but also out there, and I’m not going to let it get me. After eating lunch and finishing the laundry, I will turn off the phone, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and write—about garbage—Resistance be damned.
If you want to know more about Resistance (and how to fight it), read The War of Art: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/
Check out Seth Godin as well: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/quieting-the-lizard-brain.html
Zen Habits has a great blog on Resistance, too: http://zenhabits.net/7-powerful-steps-to-overcoming-resistance-and-actually-getting-stuff-done/