I love that informative and catchy jingle, perfected by Jack Johnson, but I’m not referring to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and does that apostrophe make the statement look grammatically incorrect?).
And forget anything that involves aRithmetic––this wRRRiter has two English degrees. Yet I can rarely sit down and eke out a coherent sentence without falling prey to myriad temptations.
My favorites include:
- The latest Instagram shot of my cousin’s zucchini harvest
- The first season of The Blacklist now streaming on Netflix (in which my longtime celebrity crush James Spader bears a striking resemblance to my Gonzo journalism crush Hunter S. Thompson)
- Sudden urges to organize my sock drawer or scrub the bathroom toilet
ANYTHING to avoid that still, quiet voice, whispering, “Sit your arse down and WRITE, goddammit!”
Mere distractions, but mighty powerful ones, they be.
Indeed, the three Rs in my life these days include Reading, wRiting, and Resistance.
That last one has enveloped the first two of late. So many books discuss this phenomenon and occasional curse. Ironically, some of it is the best writing I’ve encountered in years. Even my own work, or lack thereof, is infused with it.
The difference is that resistance fuels theirs while it debilitates mine.
Steven Pressfield dedicates at least two entire books to the topic: The War of Art and Turning Pro. I read both over the summer, while procrastinating (read: resisting) and delaying to return to writing on a regular basis.
This process prompted a rare chain of events. The procrastination actually inspired me to stop doing what I was doing while reading the books, and instead break through the resistance, and start writing!
Rule #1: Writers write, they don’t talk about writing. Duh.
It is kind of like when my mother buys books about clutter to help her clean up the clutter, but then uses them to add to the existing pile of clutter…
(Funny that about 20 minutes after I wrote that last sentence, during yet another bout of unwarranted Resistance, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of Joe Rogan interviewing Steven Pressfield discussing this very topic. It looks like Resistance can also double as serendipity.)
Both processes can devolve into vicious cycles.
But when the pupil is ready, gurus appear. They can manifest in various forms:
- Dreams (or nightmares, when your subconscious is particularly desperate)
- Muses, appearing as an idea, a mentor, inspiration, clarity. Call it what you will.
- Steven Pressfield and other inspiring artists (some of the most notable ones in my life include Tom Robbins, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Gilbert, Stephen King, and Ruth Reichl, to name a few)
The number of ways Resistance––this adversary deserves a capital ‘R’––tried to foil my plans to write even this brief piece on the very topic is at once devastating, pathetic, and all too familiar.
It is also hilarious because I, Astrid the Dragon Slayer, can recognize its trickery just a wee bit faster now.
This call to action––to write––must be pretty fucking important. I had to slay some seriously persistent dragons this week:
- Disable Words With Friends
- Bury my phone
- Mute James Spader
- Cork an open bottle of Malbec (which had a screw cap)
- Enforce Draconian Facebook parameters on myself: 20 minutes and three comments max.
- Get out of bed
- Put the pint of Half Baked froyo back in the freezer…with at least two servings left
But here I am, still alive, slightly less restless, slightly less likely to gauge out my eye with an icepick to rival the pain of not writing.
And ready to face more dragons and Resistance’s henchmen tomorrow.