“Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.’
“That’s a pro.
“In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, ‘I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work.’
“Maugham reckoned another, deeper truth: that by performing the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work, he set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration, as surely as if the goddess had synchronized her watch with his . . . He knew if he built it, she would come.”
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Resistance: We’re all painfully familiar with its many guises. Fear, procrastination, self-sabotage, distraction, stress, perfectionism. Any and all of these — and a host of other self-deluding excuses — can keep us from doing what we tell ourselves we really want to do: write.
But, as Somerset Maugham discovered, there’s a powerful antidote to this painful, energy-sapping malady. It’s called the Butt-in-the-Chair pill. Just sit down and do your work and Resistance will slink away and leave you alone — at least for a while. And, as our boy Steven observes, just the simple act of sitting down and working seems to set in motion a “mysterious” process that leads to inspiration.
It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? And yet it’s not easy — there are countless forces that seem ready and eager to get in the way of our work. The best way to defeat them, at least temporarily, is to remain unfazed — to not be discouraged or perturbed by them. Just let them bubble and flutter all around you while you do your job and sit and write.
Resistance never goes away; it’s a trickster, a shape-shifter. It changes forms and tries to trick us into thinking that there are more important things for us to do than our writing or to make us feel that everything we write is worthless, or that we need to feel great or feel better to do our work.
But to do our work, all we need to do is to do our work. And when we commit to doing our work and do it consistently, then we don’t have to go looking for inspiration — it finds us. Once we truly understand and embrace this, it really simplifies everything.
The War of Art is a favorite writing guide. I turn to it again and again for a shot of adrenalin and a kick in the pants. Its subtitle — Break Through the Blocks and Win Your inner Creative Battles — tells you everything you need to know about it. Check it out — and write on!