One of the demons I’ve had to repeatedly face along my path of creating and sharing my artwork on a daily basis has the indifference to which the creations are received. I know that far more followers on various social media outlets see these posts than do those who interact with them (like, star, fave, etc) because other, non-art posts on those services get that kind of interaction. Not a ton, but enough to contrast that which the art gets.
As a recovering over-identifying artist, this can be a constant jab at the ego. In a way, this was one of the things I wanted to face directly with this practice. Increased production requires the relinquishment of other consumption habits. Social media was an early time-sink that I let go. You discover quickly how tenuous those connections actually were when there isn’t a mutually-flowing dopamine reward of recognition maintained. As Stephen Pressfield says in “The War of Art“, “There is no tribe”.
After a recent vacuum of response from a posted drawing, again the hurt ego reared up and attempted to begin the indignant tirade against its perceived oppressors. But a thought crept in, which slowly defused this rant. I had really been enjoying this last round of art creation. I felt at home, in a style which came easily and allowed me to create more. I knew there was something deeper going on here. Continue reading “Indifference Guru”
Regular readers know that I am am a huge fan of Stephen Pressfield’s ‘artist user manual’ book “The War of Art”. A central focus of the book is the concept that Pressfield names “Resistance”, and it symbolizes all of that psychological stuff that keeps us from creating our work.
Resistance = Perfectionism?
I’ve come to believe that what Pressfield calls Resistance is another name for Perfectionism — at least for me. Perfectionism is a tricky term, because most people (as I once did) think they already know what that word means, and that it doesn’t apply to them. I suggest that anyone who can commiserate with the lack of motivation to start or maintain progress in their chosen creative outlet look into perfectionism a bit deeper.
My research and reading led me to a quite succinct and insightful book that really opened up perfectionism in an easy to understand manner, and offered specific solutions to get past it — yes, it thankfully can be unlearned, and I discuss below some of the excellent tools I’ve discovered to do so.
Continue reading “Perfectionism, Procrastination, the Fixed vs. Growth Mindset & Mastery”
Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” is a psychological Rosetta Stone for the unmotivated artist. It reveals to you why, how — and most importantly — that you are not alone in the struggle. Far from it. In fact, “your” struggle is so common, the first insight you get from the book is that you can stop identifying with that struggle immediately because it isn’t unique to you in the slightest.
Pressfield personifies this struggle with the monolithic, capitalized name: Resistance. “The War of Art” offers deeply useful tools for battling Resistance (your key insight is that the battle will never go away, so better to be good at stepping up to the challenge each day than to expect an eventual truce or victory over Resistance). But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to follow Resistance back to it’s lair. And I ended up encountering Bigfoot on this quest.
Continue reading “How Bigfoot Helped Me Overcome Procrastination, Perfectionism & Resistance”
Here’s the mistake we make when we listen to the voice of self-loathing: We misperceive a force that is universal and impersonal and instead see it as individual and personal. That voice in our heads is not us. It is Resistance. Those thoughts are not our thoughts. They are Resistance.
via Steven Pressfield, “Resistance and Self-Loathing“
As usual, Pressfield’s insight strikes me. He may be talking about the artist’s struggle, but it resonates further out than that. One of the most powerful mind weapons again depression is the knowledge I gained from “The Mindful Way Through Depression” that every depressed person has the exact same self-deprecating thoughts. This tells us that they are not true. They have nothing to do with you as an individual. It seems like a simple concept, but the more you start to understand it, it becomes profoundly powerful: these thoughts have nothing to do with me at all.
Recently, I read Susan Cain’s “Quiet” — an superbly great book on what it means to be an introvert. Having devoured articles and blog posts for a few years now since learning of this incredibly useful information that I am an introvert, I was surprised to be blown away by most of the stories and science Cain revealed in “Quiet”. Not only was I silently agreeing at just about everything as the book progressed, I often found myself having mini-eureka moments (“…so that’s why I’ve always done that!”). Honestly, it got me choked up at certain points, recalling things back to my childhood which left me bewildered. The puzzle pieces finally had the box lid to reference! Again I found powerful information: these behaviors, thoughts, and preferences have nothing to do with you at all.
So this was great: some troubling aspects of my inner world were finally finding some solace. But that opened a new can of worms, one I wasn’t really expecting: if none of these things are “me”, then where exactly is “me”?
Continue reading “How Much “Me” Is Actually There?”
This post by David Seah brings up some interesting thoughts on the concept of pursuing your passions. He questions if he’s actually found his passion, and if so, why is it not flowing naturally? Seah mentions “The War of Art” which tells us—if Pressfield is correct in his theory—that it’s not going to be an easy road.
I’ve often wondered myself if I have misidentified what exactly my passion is. I’ve always assume that it is “art”, but what if it isn’t? You can’t get any more vague than just calling it “art”. Have I focused on the wrong niche?
Continue reading “Pursuing Passion”
“The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield has popped up on my radar for a while now, and I finally got around to picking up a copy. I liked it so much, I got the audiobook version as well.
I’m going to start off by quoting my own review over on GoodReads:
Pressfield seems to have distilled the essence of the creative blocks we face, and provides some valid advice for moving past them. This book is succinct, not short. At first the small chapters we off-putting, but after completing the book I realized that this could be read in one sitting, and I think it was designed that way.
Less of a how-to book and more of a lens to help focus. I found myself nodding in agreement as well as reframing and understanding events, thoughts and choices I’ve made in the past (and those I’m resisting in the present) in a new light.
Pressfield has written a book that feels like someone took all the vague thoughts you’ve had as an artist about being an artist, and put them together in a way that’s both universal and personal. Less inspirational and more of a user manual.
Continue reading “The War of Art: An Artist’s User Manual”