For the second time, I am listening to Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles. This is a most outstanding analysis of the writing process, and facing off against what Mr. Pressfield calls “Resistance.”
What is resistance in this form? Resistance is the intangible something that whispers in your ear and gets in your way trying to keep you from advancing, growing, and pursuing the work you are here to do. Though he is mostly speaking to artists and writers, it can be applied to everyone.
“Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.” — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Another thing he talks about is that fine line between writing for your audience and writing for yourself. You do the art you do because it sings to you, the muse works with you. The danger is writing for your audience and not for yourself, and pandering as such.
In being disingenuous in this way, Mr. Pressfield asserts that you are condescending to your audience.
I have been writing weekly about seeking, finding, and creating your own path in life for 7.5 years. The majority of what I write is partially for you, my reader, but partially for me. I am analyzing my own ways and means, my approach, and my goals and aspirations.
It is my hope that in doing this not only am I being true to myself but ultimately the truest to myself I can be.
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Truth and lies in writing
Have I been totally honest as a writer with all that I present? That’s part of what Mr. Pressfield addresses. Honesty in your work is far more genuine than being dishonest. This is especially true for motivational, self-help, inspirational work.
“Writers are liars, my dear, surely you know that by now? And yet, things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” — Neil Gaiman, Dream Country
When I am working on a fantasy or sci-fi work, I am making up worlds that (as far as I know) do not exist. Fantastical worlds where some of the rules of OUR world go out the window. Hell, I get to invent rules for things like magic, sorcery, and faster-than-light travel. Does this make me a liar?
In the sense of what Mr. Gaiman’s quote says above, yes. But that doesn’t make me disingenuous in the process. I think this is better broken down in Mr. Pressfield’s notion of the amateur versus the professional.
“The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery. The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.” — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
This is part of why I am questioning if I am being true to myself. Do I spend too much time in analysis as an amateur rather than just doing my work?
When I look at myself, am I being true to myself, and a professional…or pandering and an amateur? Because of the growth I have experienced, both personally and professionally over the last 7.5 years, I believe that I AM being true to myself.
True to myself/True to you
I never claim to be an expert. Knowledgeable about certain subject matters, yes, but never an expert. Why? Because I am always growing, always learning, always gaining knowledge and experience.
Further, I take this quote rather to heart:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
This is not, for the record, about a literal beginner — in this application, a “beginner’s mind” is an open mind. A mind that is open to new experiences, new lessons, new ideas, new possibilities. I strive to maintain an open mind because I KNOW that there are new things to be learned, and endless possibilities ahead.
It is important for me to remain the beginner. It is all-too-easy to develop “expertise” and close down potential and possibility. When I was younger I was a lot more stubborn about that which I knew. But then I experienced a lot of things that opened me to far greater potential, possibility, and more.
When I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and walking my own path, I work to be very honest. This is not easy. It comes with a lot of pitfalls and obstacles and challenges. There are good days and bad days, doubts, depression, and anxiety. What if I am wrong about my path? How do I know if I am doing any good in the world around me?
The truth is that I have much good in my life. There are many struggles I have not experienced because of my privilege, skin color, and gender. That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced strife, but I acknowledge that my upbringing and environment impact my knowledge base as much as my education and choices do.
What does it all mean?
This is what I believe. Life is too short to just waste doing things you hate, being with people you don’t like, and having experiences that don’t thrill you. Sure, you need to do something to earn a living so you can afford a home, food, clothing and anything else — but why must it crush your spirit? That we accept the idea that a job, where you spend 1/3 to 2/3 of any given day, can obliterate our energies, is insane.
If you are content in your life, then, by all means, don’t change it. If, like me, you are not, determine why.
Then, when you know why, do whatever you can to change it.
You have only one life to live. That life is not meant to be mere survival, it is meant to be the biggest, best, most amazing life you can find and/or create. Everyone deserves this, which is why seeing our so-called leaders act in ways that deny rights or impact quality-of-life matters is so disheartening.
Choosing to live in an unconventional way can be scary. The collective consciousness has expectations for you, and not meeting them can evoke the fear of rejection, abandonment, and ultimately utter and total isolation.
“Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.” — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Be the best you that you can be
I write this in almost every blog post not just for you, not just to be true to myself, but because everyone can use this reminder. YOU are worthy and deserving of being the best you that you can be. Whatever shape that takes, whatever form brings that to you, you are worthy and deserving of it.
You don’t have to come from money, influence, power, or any specific background — you are worthy and deserving of finding, creating, and living a life that lights you up, brings you joy, and brings out the best in you.
The Universe is abundant, and you having good things doesn’t deny them from anyone else. The examples of the selfish, the narcissistic, and the super-greedy constantly being shown to us are not who you will become — unless that is who you choose to be. But you have the choice, and you can be well-off and still be generous, too.
I am working on being as true to myself as I can be. When I do I am more content, feel more whole, and see more possibility than when I try to shoehorn myself into somewhere I don’t belong. When I ask, Am I being True to Myself? I work to make the answer YES as much as possible.
Are you being true to yourself?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and you can be as true to yourself as you can be.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 24, 2019.