A Rolling Stone…

Feb 16, 2024 | Art, Inspirational, Writing

Road sign reads: Dream Big - Work Hard

Steven Pressfield discusses in his book, The War of Art*, the impact of our own inner Resistance on our desires to accomplish our dreams. Resistance with a capital R, because there’s nothing stronger to stop us from accomplishing our dreams than our own inner voice, an inner voice that does everything in its power to hold us back, chiefly out of fear. But…

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Even knowing this, however, doesn’t get rid of the Resistance. Resistance is part of us, it will always be there. Even if we have published 100s of books, even if we’ve sold 100s of art pieces. It. Is. Always. There.

Robert De Niro staring at you, eyebrows lowered, points at his own eyes before pointing straight at you. He's watching you!

Which is why we need to find ways to overcome it. One of these methods is to ensure we have a Practice. As Steven Pressfield states in his own post on the topic, a Practice isn’t the same as a habit. A Practice is more encompassing (and can form habits). It’s a ritual we set for ourselves to ensure we keep doing the Work, no matter what. As the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. So we have to keep on writing, or doing art, even when we’ve just finished an epic work, we can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve gotta keep our Practice up.

This is where I err. All the time. The latest instance of this was after finishing my first illustrated book, Mighty Pax’s Misadventures: A Christmas Tail*, I celebrated by…doing nothing and enjoying the holidays. Instead, I should’ve been working on new illustrations to keep what I’d just learned up to speed (and even improving on my craft), and/or working on my new novel’s story. Which is why, though it’s already February, I’m still struggling to get the new and improved plan for my next novel up and running. Oh, there’s always some progress, but it’s nothing compared to what I could’ve already accomplished if I’d kept up my Practice. Because I gave Resistance time to catch up with my body. And in the meantime, my Resistance has grown tremendously, to the point where I often wonder whether I shouldn’t just quit altogether.

One of the methods to keep up this Practice is Jerry Seinfeld’s calendar method. Essentially, you have a monthly or yearly calendar up on your wall (nothing fancy or even big), and every day you write/illustrate, you get to cross that day off. The more days in a row you cross off, the more you get incentivized to not break the chain, so that even on days when you’re exhausted, you might find it in you to still sit down at your desk and get some progress done on your Work–even if just a couple of paint strokes or writing a couple new lines.

A young Seinfeld is standing, arms crossed, before a monthly calendar page, where some days have been crossed off already.

Maybe I should try that calendar method, too!

How about you? Do you have any methods to help your Practice on track?

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