Writer’s block? Artist’s block? It happens, but why? No doubt this blog post will throw up more questions than answers for me, and possibly for you too. It is a subject that one could dedicate a lifetime trying to work it all out. What holds us back while internally we kick and scream trying to get to our goals, pursue our passions and do our job?
Steven Pressfield wrote a book about this subject. His book ‘The War Of Art‘ looks into this ‘thing’, the ‘thing’ that blocks us, stands in our way rubbing hands together with glee as it stops us in our tracks.
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that is hard. What’s hard is the sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance. Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet”
What is Resistance for me? Resistance is an energy that pushes me away from my goals and needs. It doesn’t even push me on to something else, it simply pushes me away, keeping me at arms length. It turns my dreams into impossible tasks: impossible of the most epic kind, the kind that one cannot see a way around. Before you know it Resistance has been your master for yet another precious day on this planet. Resistance doesn’t care. Resistance is strong.
I get this, I understand Steven’s description and I agree with the naming of this force “Resistance”. I see Resistance as one of those huge horseshoe magnets ordered by Wyle Coyote from the ACME warehouse. Instead of drawing me in it has the opposite effect. It’s bigger than me, an imposing sight in my mind’s eye, emitting a heat haze of energy directly at me. It doesn’t hurt, there is no physical sensation as such. It is simply there blocking the path. It is almost impossible to escape it’s grasp. The magnet thrives on trapping me, the longer I am there the stronger it’s hold.
But, it is possible to escape and deep down the magnet knows this, it has a weakness, a chink in it’s armour. I imagine myself stepping out of it’s way, I visualise it down to the smallest detail, I put myself in ‘that’ situation. There is no force to the side of it’s gaze, it’s easy to take a step to the side. It works!
Sometimes I feel too tired, too browbeaten by the magnet to step out of it’s way even though I know how easy it is to do so. Yes, it is easy to take that important step to the left or to the right. I ask myself why and question whether I like being trapped within this energy. I don’t of course but I am scared, I have an overriding fear of taking that step which will undoubtedly release me from it’s grip. The magnet knows this. The magnet is fear!
If we are doing something that means nothing to us, there is no Resistance, there is no fear. I have to tell myself that fear is a good thing it tells us that the path that we want to travel is worth it. The more fear we feel, the more we can be sure we have to do it.
I can stay out of the magnet’s beam for weeks, months or even years but, eventually the magnet catches up with me. Somehow I allow it, I don’t mean to and I certainly don’t want it to, but it does. It plants itself firmly in front of me, repelling me, keeping me from where I am happiest.
I’d love to hear your thought on artist’s block. What do you do about it? And how are you kind to yourself whilst dealing with it.