The blank page — the beginning of any creative project — tends to usher forth dark thoughts about our abilities, our talent, our vision, and our inventiveness.
Even though we may have started and completed hundreds and hundreds of projects, or written thousands and thousands of words, the panicky challenge of getting going remains as fresh as linen drying on a clothesline. We face what Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles calls Resistance — that swirling, amorphous blob of procrastination that keeps us from diving into our project and in a state of active, anxious avoidance.
Creatives throughout the centuries have famously documented their strategies for blasting through Resistance. Hemingway would stand at his desk from dawn until Noon (engaging in what he called his “done by Noon, drunk by 3” approach). Honoré de Balzac drank copious amounts of coffee — staying up throughout the night. Victor Hugo wrote in the nude, ensuring that he’d not leave the house. And on and on. There are as many stories of creatives creating rituals to outrun the Censor as there are creatives!
I take enormous comfort in knowing that Resistance is not personal. It just IS. It is a part of being human, and we all face it.
As a recovering perfectionist, I know the pitter pat sound of the Dark Dog’s paws on the wood floors when I sit down in front of my laptop. Sometimes, my strategy is to pretend he is not there, and simply try to get something on the screen — even if it is awful. Doing so tends to work for a short burst, but the Dark Dog will not be ignored. He’ll stand on hind legs and place two paws on my keyboard until I acknowledge he’s there. And then there’s a bit of bargaining, while I let the Imposter Thoughts come completely to the surface and then work to dissolve each as quickly as they arise.
Soon, he’ll sulk away from my desk and lay in a corner, still in sight. I work quickly and with fierce focus so as not to wake him.
I’m curious what your rituals are for beating Resistance. How does the Dark Dog show up for you, and what are your strategies for overcoming his presence? Head over to the Innovation & Creativity Institute Facebook page here, and share your strategies!