Unlock Your Creative Potential: 3 Lessons to Conquer Resistance, Turn Pro, and Own Your Turf!
Do you know the single enemy of creativity?
Resistance is the force that keeps us from completing a just-about-finished song. Resistance is the thing that keeps you from sitting at the piano and writing. Resistance is the enemy.
We all struggle with this unseen force, and I want to share some strategies I've learned with you.
I recently read Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. This short read packs a punch and is a must-have for any budding creative. Whether you need a pep talk, practical steps, or spiritual guidance, this book offers a little of all three to get you past your creative blocks.
While I could talk about this book for ages, I want to share the three most important lessons I learned that will help you write more songs.
We Are in a War with Resistance. Treat it Like Your Enemy.
You must come to hate and understand the force of resistance as an enemy.
We can often beat ourselves up as artists for being lazy or insufficient. Sometimes it's true. Sometimes, we are the problem.
But more often, our fear and insecurity stop us from taking action and putting our ideas into the world. This is resistance, and it will use every trick to stop you from sharing what you have with the world. Think of it as an enemy, and you'll be much more effective at overcoming it.
Resistance is cunning. It can pose as procrastination and appeal to your base desires. It can appeal to your values and give you reasons to avoid action. It can exacerbate your fears of rejection, failure, or judgment.
Most perniciously, it can even convince you that success is wrong.
Do not doubt that resistance is capable of ruining your life. Learn to despise it and strive to act against it.
Combat Resistance by Turning Pro
Commitment to grappling with resistance is the only thing that separates pros from amateurs.
This should be an empowering statement. Our hyper-industrialized society would like us to believe that the pro is someone who has all the right qualifications. Someone who's been in the field the longest. Someone who is at the top of the financial stack.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The only thing that separates the pro from the amateur is the resolution to show up daily and work in the face of resistance. For us songwriters, that means writing something every day. Moving on something every day.
Don't wait for inspiration. Make stuff despite your expectations. Make stuff. Create something every day. The more you show up, the more you invite the muses to bestow that inspiration upon you.
This sentiment is at the heart of Wayne Gretzky's axiom: "You miss 100% of the Shots you don't take."
Don't be Hack. Create on Your Turf
Only hacks compare themselves.
The cardinal difference between a pro and a hack is the inclination to over-index on one's place in a hierarchy. All of us are guilty of being hacks sometimes. But the sooner you make peace with the fact that there is always someone better than you, the sooner you will be free to create on your turf.
This is the difference between thinking hierarchically and thinking territorially.
Territorial thinking will change the way you create. You are a person with a unique set of skills and perspectives. Focus on communicating and sharing your unique gifts. Hacks worry about where they are in a hierarchy by envying those above them and gatekeeping those below.
Adopting the territorial mindset will make you an asset to your community of creators. You will open yourself up to more experiences and opportunities by sharing your knowledge and expertise than by selfishly hoarding it. You'll also be more teachable and appreciative of other people's unique gifts.
Reframing the creative process as a war against resistance helped me embrace the difficulties of creative work.
I'm not always in the mood to get started, but I know that the moment I do, I'll feel better in the moment and afterward. Territorial thinking has helped me decide what I should allocate my time to and what I should invite others to collaborate on.
In adopting these ideas, I've begun to see the creative process as an opportunity to contribute to human drama instead of a minefield of scarcity.