When it comes to writing, the biggest resistance anyone faces is to commit to putting pen on paper.
I read in The War of Art:
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’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
As one begins one’s writing journey, either as a hobby/passion or profession, we all surprisingly, face tremendous resistance in even writing the first sentence. I resisted for long. As I am writing this paragraph, let me tell you it has taken a big deal for me to go from ‘thinking of writing’ to ‘actually writing.’
During the process of learning through this journey of thinking towards writing, I learned lessons worth sharing.
Everyone has to pass this phase.
Anyone in the writing field or the overall creative field, has to go through this phase of resistance before actually beginning their work.
But not everyone does.
James Scott Bell in ‘Plot and Structure’ says he wanted to become a writer, but he had that belief fed into him that ‘Writers are Born, not Created!’. Realizing that he didn’t have a natural talent for writing, stopped him for two decades from pursuing his writing career. When he came to the understanding that like any art, anyone can learn and master the craft, he began.
This small belief held him for 20 years! Most people procrastinate and resist from the creative life they wanted to pursue once, and have resigned themselves to a job they hate.
Here are the various beliefs that feed resistance and stop us:
Lack of Knowledge
When I started out, the first belief that stuck me was, that I lack in knowledge, that I don’t know enough to commit myself for the first sentence.
So what follows next?
Self help. In excessive amount.
This belief that even before writing the first sentence, I must know everything about the art of writing; I must consume all the books, posts, videos, advices available there on writing.
But can swimming ever be learned by reading books?
Books and advice are necessary, but to understand them, I need experience to back up or else it will only be junk information gathering within.
So, true learning happens when we follow the other way of what self help promotes. Doing precedes learning. When you make mistakes, you will find room for learning and improvement. Or if you keep gathering knowledge you will become a philosopher or a professor, or a popular famous alternative a self help guru of that field!
I realized, by swimming, one will learn with a better understanding than reading all the books on the subject.
Going Past Pseudo Success
This idea of pseudo success occurs when the previous ‘lack of knowledge’ gets to the extreme.
I wanted to write. But couldn’t. Except writing, I was busy on matters related to writing.
Pseudo success happens when instead of working, one starts reading posts after posts, books, courses, videos, advices etc. Through these I would deceive myself that I am really doing something and succeeding.
Consuming excessive amount of self help, I would see myself at the top of the world, the greatest writer, a Nobel prize winner, a bestseller etc. Then the high dose of motivation would subside and I would come to my senses that nothing had happened. This emptiness and shallowness within terrorizes people and to avoid it, there is a simple trick, SELF HELP!!! To run from that emptiness, again go back to the same rat wheel or merry-go-round:
The desire to create –> Not knowing where to start –> Self-help –> pseudo success –> Knowing nothing happened –> Again desire to create –> REPEAT..
Action is the way out.
Motivated to sit and write, writer’s block stuck me, for months.
Until David B. Clear, writer and cartoonist on medium, said that if he put a gun to my head and asked me, ” IDEAS NOW – OR ELSE DIE!! “, wouldn’t I come up with them?
I learned that it’s “perfectionist’s block rather than writer’s block”.
We have ideas, millions of them, but we think until we don’t come up with something grander than Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Woolf, It’s not worth it.
We assume our every sentence is better than Shakespearean sonnets, and in the future, someone will carve them into gold plates.
Now, let us face the reality.
90% of what we write, comes out distorted first time. And that’s great. For I learned good writing is re-writing. When we sit down and commit ourselves to the first paragraph or sentence, and look at it, IT’S ACTUALLY HORRIBLE!! Most of what we write, the garbage part, we can chop them off in the next draft, and finish them up in the garbage bin. If done correctly, after some drafts, the diamond remains and the coal is gone!
When building a house, it’s a mess, it’s not like you visit the site and look at the pile up of bricks, cements, dust etc. and say, “Hey, this isn’t the dream house that I desired! It looks awful, I should consider cancelling the project!”. You know, this pile of heap in a matter of time will turn into your dream home.
Writing starts with a heap called the first draft. Slowly, after chiseling, hammering, adding, subtracting and painting, it builds up.
The thought that I don’t have enough wisdom, is what the imposter syndrome is all about.
The bud is no smaller than the flower, it’s on a different level of growth. There’s no wisdom yet; it has to first flower and then share the wisdom. Till then it can share its own growth and learnings so far, which millions of seeds and small plants have yet to bud can learn.
Until now, writing this, I have read 80+ books. A single book takes an average 15 hours for me to complete, which totals up to 1,200+ hours! And also backed with 19 years’ worth of life experience, I can share my learnings to billions below my age, and also to the elderly who don’t read or have enough time and resource to devote, or see the world differently, from my view.
Obvious to you, amazing to others
When we encounter mind-boggling ideas and learnings, we are filled with joy and there is a change in perspective that we experience. Also, we often wonder for a while how the hell they came up with something so grand and amazing.
But with time, the excitement fades away. We are definitely growing with it, although it’s become obvious to us.
With all the mind boggling obvious ideas within us, when we lay them down to share with others, IT BLOWS THEM AWAY!!
What was obvious to us, becomes amazing to someone else. Earlier, we wondered upon others creation and over time with growth, others wonder as to how we come up with something so grand and amazing.
Share what you have got, your pebbles might be diamonds to others.
Listening to our ‘inner censor’
Here’s how Dani Shapiro defines her inner censor:
Here are some of the things she whispers, or shouts, depending on her mood, whenever I’m beginning something new:
This is stupid.
What a waste of time. (Condescending laugh)
You really think you can pull that off?
So-and-so did it better. What a dumb idea.
Are you ready for a nap?
My inner censor wants to shut me down.
We all have this inner censor. A mixture of self doubt, lack of confidence, and other negative self defeating emotions. It should not defeat us. I realized the only way to overcome it is not through theories or beliefs, but to sit down and put pen to paper. The more you write, the less horrible it becomes. And once submerged in writing, it completely fades away.
Want to say what’s in your heart on paper, but can’t? Know your beliefs, know your resistance. Then Write!
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels