If You’re Not Writing, You’re Resisting

BookFor a few years now, my husband told me. My business coach did too. Everyone told me I was wasting my time on paid writing work that didn’t fill my soul. But it’s hard when you’re freelancing and getting paid. It’s hard to say, “No” when you don’t know when your next big check will come in. But these were the first two signs. Another one had come years before.

Several years ago, I received a handful of Steven Pressfield’s book. I quickly devoured The War of Art, but it was only when I got into Turning Pro that my life changed dramatically. Here are a few nuggets that started the stone, that rippled across the river and that finally had a big impact on the way I perceived my writing:

“When you sit down to do your work, do you leave our web connection on?

It can be fatal, keeping up with the Kardashians.”

“When we were amateurs, our life was about drama, about denial, and about distraction.”

“We usually think of breath throughs as ecstatic moments that elevate us from a lower level to a higher. And they do. But there’s a paradox. In the moment, an epiphany feels like hell. It exposes us and leaves us naked. We see ourselves plain, and it’s not a pretty picture.”

It’s that last statement that really stuck with me. I realized after reading his book that everything I was getting “busy” doing, finding jobs, taking unfulfilling writing gigs and even playing games on my phone was taking me away from my real dream of publishing a children’s book, short stories and personal essays.

I am ashamed to admit that I bought into the belief that I could get what I wanted without the time and effort involved. I had devoted and sacrificed a lot to get to be freelance writing for the past 9-years. But that took research, networking and time. I didn’t give my next dream that same fervor.

When I read Pressfield’s work, I realized that all the other “stuff” I was doing was another way I was unconsciously distracting myself out of fear. I was embarrassed by the pieces I was sending off before they were given their fair due. I let time fall away from me while I was shopping online or searching for the next big writing gig. After having my second baby and took time off from all of my paid work, I had enough space to reflect on what I was doing-I was getting good at work I didn’t really want to do, and I was moving further away from my dreams.

The good news is that I got the wake up call and on the path now to turning pro. I’m working on the stuff I’m excited about daily. I’m attending conferences, reading books on the topic and writing at home and writer’s group. Thanks to finally waking up, I’m committed and hopefully that will bring me that much closer to my dreams.

The Truth About Failure

Blue woman

I had it again. It’s a reoccurring dream where I’m still in high school. The dream haunts me because I’m stuck there, unable to take the necessary courses and get the required grades to move on. Although the situation is different, the emotion is the same.

FEAR. It’s the emotion that prevents me from taking the next step.

This year embarks a new journey for me. I’m still writing, but I decided to reach outside of my comfort zone and teach workshops. Teaching stress management workshops has been my dream for almost as long as I’ve wanted to be a writer. I finally faced my fears and did my first one at the end of last year and have two more scheduled in the next few months.

I’m always surprised when people like them and prior attendees want to sign up for another one. This is despite the fact that since I’ve been working on them, I’ve slept better, my son’s cries doesn’t stir me up the way it used to and my husband says he’s noticed a significant decrease in his stress after taking it. I’m too accustomed to failure. I brace myself for it even before its made apparent.

But I read something recently on failure that changed how I perceive it.

Failure isn’t the end of your dream, nor is it proof that you won’t ever succeed. It’s indication that you might need a new path. It’s evidence that you need to try something different. But it’s also the realization that you’re doing it! Failure is a necessary part in success. You cannot avoid or sideswipe it if you want to get good at what you do.

Stop criticizing yourself by adding unnecessary suffering and burden for the things you didn’t do right. They are wasteful emotions that work only as excuses so you don’t have to try again.

In The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield talks about the pain he felt when the first movie he worked on bombed:

I’m a loser, a phony; my life is worthless, and so am I.

My friend Tony Keppelman snapped me out of it by asking if I was going to quit. Hell, no! ‘Then be happy. You’re where you wanted to be, aren’t you? So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.’

That’s was when I realized I had become a pro. I had not yet had success. But I had had a real failure.”

Why You Haven’t Gotten Published Yet

Writing in a cottage

“Friends sometimes ask, ‘Don’t you get lonely sitting by yourself all day?’ At first it seemed odd to hear myself answer No. Then I realized that I was not alone; I was in the book; I was with the characters. I was with my Self.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The more I commit to writing fiction, the more I appreciate the genius that is Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

I made up a fiction’s children story on the fly. My husband and I were resting at the most beautiful country cottage in Point Reyes. It was a raining, fire kindling kind of evening when I told it to him. That was 4 years ago. I’ve been plowing through since then.

And then I stopped.

I took a hiatus for many reasons. But my story was verging on complete annihilation because when you pause for that long resistance wins.

Resistance wins through rationalization.

Pressfield says in his book, “What’s particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true. They’re legitimate.”

I moved, had a baby, and was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. I got busy. Priorities shifted. But deeper than that, What right did I have anyway to write fiction? I was doing pretty well as a nonfiction writer and blogger. But fiction? Fiction was meant for truly talented writers. I was not one of them.

Since working on my fiction stories again, I have about 5 now, some completed, a few ones still in progress, I realized what was really keeping me from my work. It wasn’t the external stuff that was getting me. It was the internal belief that I couldn’t do it or that even if I could, who would read it anyway?

That is why this passage written by Pressfield in his book really hit home for me:

“What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. Lance Armstrong had cancer and won the Tour de France three years and counting. If Resistance couldn’t be beaten, there would be no Fifth Symphony, no Romeo and Juliet. Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years.”

I had given birth and yet the idea of writing a book seemed impossible. This reminded me that there are no real reasons to give up, just fear.

If we keep to our computers or our notebooks every day, whether it’s 10 minutes or 4 hours, fear won’t have disappeared, but its power will diminish into the background like the white noise of an unwatched television screen.

If you take your work seriously, your commitment will override any fears you have. And just like the ordinary man behind the screen in the Wizard of Oz, you’ll find it’s a lot less intimidating and powerful than you imagined it to be.


Christmas Gift Giveaway for Creatives

Book Giveway

I’ve been blogging here for 4 years and in that time, the gifts I’ve received from starting this blog has far exceeded the time and effort it’s taken to keep it up.

  • I’ve connected with other like-minded writerly friends.
  • It’s widened my exposure helping new clients to find me when I lived in the Bay Area, California and now as a freelance writer in Hawaii.
  • It’s sharpened my writing skills.
  • It’s given me a platform to help other writers.
  • And it’s been the portfolio by which I’ve landed a column for The Writer magazine, and various other writing endeavors.

In the last 6 years that I’ve been working professionally as a writer, I’ve gained insight, wisdom, skills and most importantly-gratitude. And I’m always looking to pay it forward.

Recently, I was inspired by bestselling author Steven Pressfield’s interview on Super Soul Sunday. I began tweeting, blogging and updating my Facebook page about it. Oettinger & Associates, Inc. who works with Pressfield contacted and offered to send me a few books after reading this post. I was thrilled and even more surprised when I received a box of books several weeks later.

I’m anxious to start reading his work from occult book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles to TurningPro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work and The Authentic Swing: Notes from the Writing of a First Novel. But I got even more excited at the thought of sharing it with all of you.

As a gift to those who’ve commented, tweeted, and liked any of my posts (and you know who you are), thank you! Thank you for encouraging this writer to keep writing when things get rough, when it feels like no one cares. You keep me going. I’d love for all of you to receive this gift.

Since I can only give 1 person this 3 book bundle, you need to comment, tweet (make sure you add @TheInspiringBee so I can catch it), or like this post this whole week and I’ll enter you in. Each time you share this giveaway on a different social media outlet, you’ll get another entry.

Thanks guys! Really and sincerely. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t keep blogging here. So thank you!