A wake up call for any creative person, a true declaration of action. Great thoughts on overcoming creative inhibitions. First question: “How bad do you want it?”
Dabbling? Interested? Intrigued but Uncertain? Passionate, or totally Committed?
It’s time to put this book down and get rid of it if your answer does not coincide with any of the words mentioned above.
The act of renouncing immediate gratification in favor of growth, health, or integrity -OR- the act that appeals to our higher nature as opposed to our lower nature. Those actions are sure to elicit Resistance.
Resistance is a repellent force. It pushes us into the opposite direction, it distracts us, makes us lose focus, and hinders us from accomplishing our goals.
Resistance will always point to true North, we can use it as a compass. We can navigate through life by using resistance as a marker, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more we pursue it, the resistance we encounter.
The first step to creating something we are passionate about and terrified to do is to have an idea. When the small-time ego is frightened by the bold, generous, creative impulse, it retaliates with resistance.
Fear never goes away. Every day is a new battle.
Prepare to Act
A creative person’s worst enemy is rational thought, right behind resistance.
The problem with friends and family is that they know us very well, and they want us to stay as we are, and the last thing we want is to remain as we are, so be prepared to meet new people.
The artist and entrepreneur’s foremost allies are ignorance and arrogance.She is clueless enough not to know how difficult her venture will be - and cocky enough to think that she can still pull it off. What is the best way to achieve this state of mind? By staying stupid, by maintaining our ignorance. Children, as well as geniuses and madmen, have no trouble believing the unbelievable. We are the only ones who doubt, overthink and hesitate, because our brains are big and our hearts so small.
Don’t think about it. Act. After we’ve taken action, we can always revise and revisit. We can’t accomplish anything until we take action. When is a good time to start? Get started before you’re ready. Make no preparations, get started. As long as we give our brain so much as a nanosecond, it will start coming up with excuses, alibis, transparent self-defenses, and a million reasons why we cannot/should not/won’t do what we know we need to do.
Courage breeds more courage. Research can lead to resistance. The process of conception begins at the primal level. Primitiveness is better than sophistication, and stupidity is better than intelligence. You are better off writing a lousy ballet than not coming up with an idea at all.
Sometimes, screenwriters work backwards, they begin at the end. This trick usually starts by solving the climax first and proceeding with the rest of the movie. When you open a restaurant, start with how you wish diners to feel when they walk in and when they enjoy a meal there.
Start at the end, then move to the beginning and figure the middle as you go along. Those are the things you need to start up, those are the things you need to plan. Figure out your goal, then work your way backwards.
The first actual thought I had was at thirty years old. In the past, everything I noticed, read, heard, or saw was either what Buddhist would call monkey-mind chatter, or reflexive regurgitation of what I learned from my parents, teachers, media, or environment. Throughout this book, when I say “Don’t think,” what I mean is: don’t pay attention to the chatter. Take no notice of those rambling, disjointed images and ideas that float across your mind, distracting you. The thoughts you have are not yours, they’re merely mindless chatter. They are Resistance.
Its purpose is to make you exactly like everyone else, to provide you with an avenue for conforming to societal order.
From where do we get our own true thoughts? Is it possible to access them? Where does our true, authentic self come from? We will be looking for the answer for the rest of our lives.
Keep our three mantras in mind: Stay primitive. Trust the soup. Swing for the seats. Lastly, our final precept: 4. Be prepared to face resistance.
Any time either of us sets about creating anything - art, commerce, science, or love - or aspires to become a higher and more noble version of ourselves, we must expect from the universe a corresponding opposite effect. This reaction is known as Resistance. The purpose of resistance is to prevent us from becoming our best selves and from reaching our highest goals. It is an active, intelligent, protean, malign force that is tireless, relentless, inextinguishable. The universe is not indifferent, but it is actively hostile. Throughout this volume, each principle is derived from that truth. Each of the axioms above aims to outwit, outflank, or outmaneuver the Resistance. Resistance is impossible to eliminate, there is simply no way to get rid of it. However, we can outsmart it with allies that are just as powerful as the Resistance. Taking Resistance lightly, underestimating it, or failing to take it into account is something we must never, ever allow ourselves to do.
When movie writers pitch a project, they boil down their presentation to the basics: A killer opening scene, 2 major set pieces in the middle, a killer climax, and a concise statement of the theme. There is only one rule for the first full working draft: it should be done as quickly as possible. At this stage, there is no need to worry about quality. Act instead of reflecting, it’s all about momentum. You must get to THE END as if the devil himself were breathing down your neck and poking you in the butt with his pitchfork because believe me, he is.
Keep going. Keep your head up. Don’t think about it. Put an end to all self-judgement.
Act, reflect, Act, reflect, constantly repeat this sequence, but NEVER act and reflect at the same time. Action is putting words on paper. Reflection means evaluating what we have written.
Put aside rational thought, play like a child and enjoy yourself. This method is purely instinctive and intuitive, but why does it work? Because our idea (our song, our ballet, our new Tex-Mex restaurant) is more intelligent than we are. Our job is not to control our ideas; our job is to figure out what they are (and what they want to be) and then to realize them. The song already has the potential, even while we’re still composing it, it’s up to us to find it.
Bob Dylan’s Chronicles are worth reading, it details how he goes to insane lengths to find a song (or an arrangement or a producing partner), and all of his actions are instinctive. A primitive, childish, and fearless instinct. We all desire the concept that makes us say “No, this is too wild.”
Stephen King has admitted that he works every day. Approximately how much time can you spare each day? During that time, close the door and - barring a family emergency or an outbreak of World War III - don’t let anyone in, and continue to focus on work.
Twice a week, I take a break from work and meet with myself. I take time to ask myself if I am still on the right track with the project I’m working on and continue to refine your understanding of the theme. Ask yourself these questions:
- “What is the purpose of this project?”
- “What is it about?” “Is every element contributing to it?”
- “Is there something missing?”.
A hostile force exists. We are being attacked by an active, intelligent, malignant force.
Intelligent, ruthless, implacable, inextinguishable, and constantly evolving, this enemy is a threat that can never be stopped. This enemy doesn’t aim to obstruct or to hamper or to impede. It aims to kill, and this enemy is inside you, but it isn’t you.
Resistance is not a peripheral enemy. The cause of it is not competitors, bosses, partners, spouses, children, terrorists, lobbyists, or political enemies. It comes from within us.
Love is the opposite of fear; it means the thrill of the challenge, the excitement of the work, the pure joy of venturing into the unknown to see if we can pull it off. It’s only love and commitment to the project that you keep, along with the desire to serve the ethical, artistic Muse.
You cannot serve the world by playing small. Being cautious so others won’t feel insecure around you isn’t enlightening. Each of us is meant to shine, just like a child does.