If you’re a creative person or just a person altogether, you might have heard of the book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. If you haven’t, the whole thing centers around the idea of “resistance.” For example, if we want to be a writer, we’re going to encounter a lot of resistance towards writing. Our mind will come up with excuses right and left not to write, and most of us will succumb to these excuses and never pick up the pen to begin with. We’ll say we don’t have time, we’ll tell other people how much we’ve always wanted to be a writer, we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid writing.
Nobody is immune to this resistance. I’ve been feeling it come on awfully strong lately myself, particularly in regards to comedy. I’ve been circling through a bunch of nonsensical mental gymnastics to avoid getting on stage the last few weeks, like telling myself that I’m gonna be leaving the country for the whole summer in two months anyways so there’s no point building up momentum now because then I’ll want to stay here. I know it’s nonsense, but those thoughts still prevail.
The last two times I tried to go to an open mic haven’t been ideal to say the least. I had to leave the first one because I had to throw up. The next one, I was on my way to the mic and had to shit myself, so I sprinted into a hotel and then went home and continued with said shitting of myself. Of course in my mind, I tried to say “it’s a sign that maybe you don’t need to be doing comedy right now.” But it’s not. I just ate too much cheese.
I actually have no idea why I threw up that one day, that was pretty random. But the shitting myself, that was from the cheese. The point is, I’ve been looking for reasons not to get on stage and it’s for no other reason than the aforementioned resistance. When I have gotten on stage lately it’s gone extremely well, so it’s not like I’m bombing or struggling. The only thing I’m struggling with is resistance.
Thankfully, I know what it is so I can correct it. Steven Pressfield says that you “just have to show up.” Whatever creative endeavor you gravitate towards, it’s your duty as a creative person to show up and do it. I’m avoiding beating myself up like I used to, because showing up is hard and showing up on stage is even harder. It’s much easier for me to show up on the page than on the stage; and I do continue to show up on the page, so I have to give myself credit where credit is due, because in the past I haven’t and that’s not helpful either.
I’m also extremely introverted and have always had stage fright, so getting on stage is a major hurdle every time. I know a lot of comics who have little issue getting on stage but when it comes to putting pen to paper, they struggle mightily. We all have our challenges, one way or another. It’s our individual responsibility to overcome them. I have respect for anyone who steps on that stage to tell jokes even once.
It’s easy to scroll through my Instagram feed and look at everyone else posting about all the shows their doing and feel bad, but that doesn’t do any good. I’m not immune to the FOMO, but I rarely let it get the best of me anymore. I think it’s impressive and inspiring that so many people are pursuing their dreams and continue to show up every day. Those are the people you want to be around, and I’m around those people quite often, so I’m very grateful for that. That’s why I came here. I could have stayed home and been the funniest comic in my small town, but I wouldn’t have understood what it really takes to get to the next level. Comedy is crazy competitive in Austin right now, which is a good thing. It makes everyone better. I mean it also just makes some people completely psychotic but they were sort of that way anyway so that’s neither here nor there.
Anyways, if you’re experiencing resistance in your life, you’re not alone. Whether you still haven’t taken the first step against that resistance or you’re a seasoned creative veteran, you’re not alone. It can seem overwhelming when you look at how far away your dream is, but having a long way to go to a dream is a blessing, not a curse. It’s the act of pursuing the dream itself where meaning is found. There is no final destination. There’s no place to get to. There’s no day when you wake up and realize you’ve “made it” and now your life can finally release into a state of dreamy bliss. There’s only the creative act, and we only have the present moment to simply show up and do it.
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4 thoughts on “Creative Resistance”
Hi Jason, I really enjoyed this piece as it resonated so much with me. In fact, my latest blog touches on this subject (the blog with no name – blog 193). There’s a certain comfort in knowing that we’re not alone, and it acts as a great reminder that whilst we’re all unique, we all suffer in the same way. I don’t know if this is your cup of tea, but I just watched Pink’s video of her single “Trustfall” and the message is also related to our posts. I particularly like the lyrics towards the end of the video, “You’re shit scared and your whole body is shaking, go in there and just fucking do it, just do it whatever it is and then boom, it’s gone: the fear is gone”. I don’t know if you’re a fan, but I think she’s got it all sussed! Keep on non-resisting.
Hell yeah, so glad it resonated with you and I’ll definitely have to check out the song! I like what you said about all being unique but suffering in the same way, ’tis very true.
Enjoyed reading this. Always like seeing you on stage in ATX whenever we cross paths. Keep on keeping on.
Thanks Mary! The on will keep onning til al the on is gone!