“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.