“Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can’t sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash.”
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
The War of Art is one of my all-time favorite writing guides — why? Consider its subtitle : Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. That says it all, doesn’t it? Who among us isn’t striving mightily to win our inner creative battles? And who among us is finding it easy?
When I picked up my copy today, it fell open to a page entitled, “A Professional Is Patient.” The page seemed to have my name written all over it. Right now, I’m dealing with a situation in my work where patience is called for and let’s just say that it’s no picnic. I’m
struggling. That’s why I read on to see what our boy Steven had to say about patience. It helped me — and I hope it will help you:
The professional “understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.” Pros understand that achieving anything worthwhile involves “pain and persistence.” There’s no escaping this time-honored, but less-than-glamorous recipe for success.
“The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work.” Pros are expert craftsmen who know the rules of the game. They know that any major project, “whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel” will take twice as long to complete as expected and requires twice the investment expected. They accept this reality instead of fighting it and get on with the task at hand calmly and methodically.
The pro knows that he/she is in a marathon, not the sixty-yard dash. Mentally accepting that the journey to completion will be a long one is critical for survival. Conserving energy and pacing are key.
Patience — defined as “the capacity to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without becoming angry or upset” — what a precious attribute this is! And how difficult it is to summon up, especially in today’s digital world where everything is constantly accelerating. And yet, without the willingness to endure delayed gratification, to accept pain and persistence as the cost of admission, and to handle delays and thorny
problems with equanimity, how likely is it that we’ll achieve anything of value?
So let’s play the patience card. Let’s beat resistance at its own game by recognizing that slow and steady wins the race. Let’s accept the pain and persistence that are part of any worthy endeavor. And then, let’s write on!