Does procrastination = resistance?
January 19, 2012 § 3 Comments
Some call it procrastination. Author Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire, The Legend of Begger Vance, Tides of War) calls it “Resistance.” Yes, I’m reading his book “The War of Art” and it’s very insightful on how to break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. As writers we always find reasons not to write. As I wrote in an earlier article, the house has never been so clean when I’ve had to sit down and face the blank page.
Once you become a professional and a producer is paying you to write a script under a deadline, your dream suddenly becomes real and now you are in the thick of it. The voices of fear can scream loudly and at times can even be deafening. You may worry about doing your best on the project or maybe keep asking yourself, “can I really execute this like they think I can? Can I really pull this off?”
Pressfield writes: “A professional acts in the face of fear. The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist. What Henry Fonda does, after puking into the toilet in his dressing room, is to clean up and march out onstage. He’s still terrified, but he forces himself forward in spite of his terror. He knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he’ll be okay.”
How many times as writers did we face the dread of working on a new project. I mean the idea of a new project is dandy, it’s something we all want and dream about, right? Ah, but there’s that pesky execution part where you really must deliver the goods. It’s not just in your head anymore; it needs to be on the page.
I’m always a bundle of nerves before I start on a new script, as it’s unchartered territory and perhaps it will challenge me to the very essence of my ability. Even after 26 feature screenplays, it’s still a new experience every time out. I ask myself, “When I go back to the well this time, will there be something there?” I think all artists fear the loss of their creative edge and fear that maybe THIS time, it’s really over. You’ve escaped being discovered as a fraud for years — until now! They have you in their sights and will pull the trigger.
Pressfield goes on to write, “The amateur, underestimating Resistance’s cunning, permits the flu to keep him from chapters; he believes the serpent’s voice in his head that says mailing off the manuscript is more important than doing the day’s work. The professional has learned better. He respected Resistance. He knows that if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice likely to cave in tomorrow. The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished. The pro doesn’t even pick up the phone. He stays at work.”
Indeed. If you’re not doing it after reading this post — sit down and write something. I did last week and wrote 31 pages in two days. It can happen. Just do it!
“The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.” — William Goldman
“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” — James Thurber
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