One of the best books on work and craftsmanship out there. Resistance is the enemy. Whenever we procrastinate, Resistance wins. Resistance is what keeps us from achieving our dreams. The only way to beat Resistance is to simply get to work. No bullshit, just work.
Procrastination is the greatest enemy of happiness and accomplishment. Resistance is the destructive force within human nature that arises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might bring about positive changes. Resistance is any excuse or form of distraction that allows one not to work on their vacation.
Show up, put in the work, and go home. That’s all that counts. You overcome Resistance.
How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.
It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. Are you a writer who doesn't write, a painter who doesn't paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Look in your own heart. Unless I'm crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I'm crazy, you're no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn't real? Resistance will bury you.
It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas
Activities that commonly elicit Resistance:
Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance. We don't tell ourselves, "I'm never going to write my symphony. " Instead we say, "I am going to write my symphony; I'm just going to start tomorrow."
Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance. The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work.
What finally convinced me to go ahead was simply that I was so unhappy not going ahead. I was developing symptoms. As soon as I sat down and began, I was okay.
What Resistance feels like:
Sounds like life, I know. It isn't. It's Resistance.
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you're probably doing it out of Resistance. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others.
Doubt serves as an indicator of aspiration. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
Fear is good. Fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
If you didn't love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn't feel anything. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.
Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of Resistance. They're the sign of an amateur.
The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt.
Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. Lance Armstrong had cancer and won the Tour de France three years and counting.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it's his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.
"I write only when inspiration strikes, fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp."
- Somerset Maugham
Maugham was saying, "I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work. "
The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable.
The qualities that define us as professionals:
An amateur won’t say, “This fucking trilogy is killing me!”. Instead, he never writes it at all.
The writer is an infantryman. He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood.
Resistance loves pride and preciousness. Resistance says, "Show me a writer who's too good to take Job X or Assignment Y and I'll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut."
The aspects of a professional:
Thinking of yourself as a corporation reinforces the idea of professionalism because it separates the artist-doing-the-work from the will-and-consciousness-running-the-show. The You-Boss makes a planning for the You-Employee. And no matter what, You-Employee had better finished up those quarterly sales numbers or You-Boss is going to chew you out. Make a planning, but not by you to you. Rather, act as a different person.
“…the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
“Eternity is in love with the creations of time.” -William Blake
"Whatever you can do , or dream you can , begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now." – Goethe
When we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the angels to come in and do their job. They can speak to us now and it makes them happy. It makes God happy
The Ego hates it when the awakening writer sits down at the typewriter. The Ego hates it when the aspiring painter steps up before the easel.
Resistance feeds on fear. We experience Resistance as fear. But fear of what?
Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started.
Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours. Fear of betraying our race, our 'hood, our homies.
Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for.
Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives. Fear of madness. Fear of insanity. Fear of death.
However, they’re not the real fear. The real fear is the Fear That We Will Succeed. We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are, since it expels us from our tribes, going against 50 million years of evolution.
A hack is someone that doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for.
What’s your territory? The gym? A typewriter? The headquarters of your business? Your text-editor filled with code? Your sketchbook?
What would Arnold Schwarzenegger do on a freaky day? He wouldn't phone his buddies; he'd head for the gym. He wouldn't care if the place was empty, if he didn't say a word to a soul. He knows that working out, all by itself, is enough to bring him back to his center. His orientation is territorial.
Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
Someone once asked the Spartan king Leonidas to identify the supreme warrior virtue from which all others flowed. He replied: "Contempt for death." For artists, read “Failure”.
Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don't do it