The Devil Inside

When it comes to producing art, art of any kind, there seems to be a certain level of resistance the artist feels prior to beginning their creation - a gravitational pull that steers the writer into every direction bar the one where his pen and paper lie.

This resistance is an unrelenting foe, one which possesses the power to lead even the most devoted of artists astray. This resistance will charm you into doing anything and everything bar the one thing you should most be doing. It will make household tasks such as washing the dishes, taking out the trash, and cleaning the bathroom appear glamorous; presenting each chore as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed out on. This resistance is a master illusionist.

Some artists would justify the resistance they feel towards their work by putting it down to a prolonged bout of procrastination. Whilst other artists, ones that are far more in tune with themselves know that the daily resistance that never fails to tug on the back of their jumper harnesses a great deal more power than its parter-in-crime, procrastination. Resistance is the devil inside that never rests, never surrenders, and is forever focused on its mission.

Why do you think Leonardo da Vinci took 16 years to paint The Mona Lisa? It wasn't down to him running out of paint or being short on brushes, it was because da Vinci was a chronic procrastinator. And a result, he ended as a prisoner of his own resistance. In other words, da Vinci lost the battle against his resistance more times than he won it. With such devotion to the goddess of procrastination herself, da Vinci continually assigned himself new projects despite not completing the previous projects he started. Fortunately, before time eventually exposed him, da Vinci was able to finish painting the masterpiece that is The Mona Lisa. This is what Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his journal leading up to the final hours before his death: "To God and Man for leaving so much undone.”

As a writer, the scariest part of my day is staring at the blank page. There is so much to be frightened of - that is, of course, until I begin typing. First, come the words. Second, come the sentences. Third, come the paragraphs. And before I know it, an article is published or a book has been written. The fear of creators-block has been overcome, and the unwavering presence of resistance has now proven powerless. Following the completion of my work, I can go about my day knowing that today, this day, has not been a wordless day - it has not been a wasted day.

In a strange way, we must surrender to this invisible force of resistance before we can truly understand what it is and why it does what it does. We must watch it carefully, the same as we would watch our child when playing on the shore of the ocean’s edge at the seaside. We must first become the student of this resistance before we become the teacher of it. We must sit back and examine it, study its every thought and movement before deploying our own inner mercenary to wage war against it.

The solution, then, in not only commencing the work but also concluding it, can be comprised into two parts:

  1. To sit down in your chair and face the work

2. To remain seated in your chair until the work is complete

Whilst the above strategy may appear simple in theory, when the practical application greets us, it is far easier said than done - to which I will be the first to admit. Guilty as charged.

Okay, let’s approach this resistance from a different angle… Imagine your form of resistance wants to play catch with you. Your resistance says to you, ‘I’ll throw you the ball and you have to catch it. Okay?’ This is far from an ideal situation. Whilst playing catch seems like a harmless activity, it can leave you breathless if you're not careful. You need to thoughtfully consider your answer before replying to your resistance' offering. ‘Why so?’ Because your form of resistance is equally as qualified as a tricker as it is a specialist in distraction. Let's say you agreed to play catch with your resistance. The ball is thrown to you and you catch it - now the ball is in your hands. At this point, you are in a very vulnerable position as your resistance now has you exactly where it wants you. With no fathomable means of escape, you may feel more inclined to throw the ball back and forth with your resistance until the end of the day. This is the danger zone. But If you're willing to stand your ground and reject the offer to play catch from your resistance, then the higher chance you’ll have at winning your day. In short, if your form of resistance offers you to play ball, simply decline - and if your resistance throws the ball to you despite your decision not to play, do not by any means catch the ball

I wish you all the best with your creative endeavours.

Thanks for reading.