Forty-eight hours of freedom lay ahead. The problem? No outings with friends or shopping sprees awaited. I dreaded being home alone and bored. So I stopped at a bookstore, bought a book, and nestled down in my bed pillows to read: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Written from his experience with years of avoiding his talent, author Steven Pressfield delivered one-page punches for combating resistance to creativity.
The book troubled me. I recognized myself in the pages—a wannabe writer—who didn’t write. I’ve started writing a gazillion times. And stopped as many.
When life is easier. When I have more time.
Near midnight, I fell asleep but awoke 15 minutes later, heart pounding. I read further in The War of Art then drifted off and awakened again. This pattern repeated itself for two more hours. Around 2:00 a.m. I grabbed a novel that didn’t “hit home.” My ploy succeeded and I fell sound asleep in the middle of page one.
At 5:15 a.m. a blazing headache yanked me out of deep slumber. I stumbled to the kitchen and downed four ibuprofens. Will they work? Usually with a headache this bad, only the prescription stuff works. My second problem loomed: no prescription medication. Laid off from my job, I now worked as a contractor without health insurance.
The prescription pills cost a pricey thirty dollars each. To get over the headache, I’d need to take two tablets in the morning, two at night, and perhaps one more the next morning.
One hundred and fifty bucks minimum.
While mulling over my dilemma, I plugged in the coffee pot. Words from The War of Art drifted into my consciousness. Didn’t Pressfield write something about headaches? I pushed the BREW button and fished the book out of the covers.
Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty…Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.
I laid the book down. Is this true? Did this headache—and all the others I endured over the past few years—arise from resistance? Was putting off my desire to write making me sick?
I threw open my closet containing binders of stashed notes, half-baked articles and book outlines. Flipping through them I was surprised to see that the writing was good. What stopped me from finishing what I started? I recalled scenes from the past: a cross-country move, a demanding job, one crisis after another . . .
Motivated by my throbbing head, I decided to push past my resistance. I gazed at the piles scattered around. What can I work on right now? Nothing jumped out at me…except the thought: What if I start and quit again?
Coffee in hand and determined, I headed to my computer. Out of habit, I opened my e-mails and started typing a reply. No. Writing is first. Write one hour, then you can reply to e-mails.
I opened a new page in Microsoft Word®.
My mind reflected the screen – blank.
God, please help me write.
I remembered a writer-teacher advising her blocked students to start where they are. “What’s going on right now? Write that.”
I typed: Friday night…