Steve's All Is Lost Moment, 1974

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Your Resistance and Mine

By Steven Pressfield
Published: February 15, 2017

 

This is the fourth post in our series called “The Professional Mindset.” Let’s pause here and flash back to what this stuff is all about.

Yep, he faced it too.

Yep, he battled it too.

It’s about Resistance.

We adopt the Professional Mindset for one reason only: to combat our own internal self-sabotage.

The professional mindset is a weapon against Resistance, like AA is a weapon against alcoholism.

Don’t laugh. The analogy is exact.

Have you, the writer, ever woken up metaphorically face-down in the gutter at five in the morning with an empty bottle beside you?

I have.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am powerless against this force that is destroying me from inside?”

I have.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to turn my life around, starting right here and right now.”

Some people might call that moment “hitting bottom.”

I call it “turning pro.”

I call it switching to the Professional Mindset.

In Twelve Step programs the first action you take is to admit you are beaten. You acknowledge that a certain internally-generated negative force has power over you. It has defeated you over and over in the past, and it’s going to destroy you completely if you can’t get a handle somehow on facing it and containing it.

As writers and artists, we wake up with that negative force every morning.

It never goes away.

It never gets any easier.

We are exactly like recovering alcoholics.

Our booze is Resistance.

It tempts us every day, every hour. It’s seductive, it’s diabolical, it’s indefatigable.

In Twelve Step programs, the individual’s mantra is “One Day at a Time.”

That’s my mantra too.

I don’t go to meetings like individuals in AA or Al-Anon or other Twelve Step programs.

These blog posts are my meetings.

I reinforce myself with them. I screw up my courage by sharing my losses and victories on the page, on the web.

The principles involved are the same.

Humility.

Acceptance of vulnerability.

Resolve to prevail.

The Professional Mindset, in whatever form you or I adopt it, is the most powerful weapon I’ve ever heard of in the battle against Resistance and self-sabotage.

We spoke last week (the post was titled “You, Inc.”) about thinking of ourselves not as individuals but as enterprises. That’s a mind trick. It’s a head game. But it works, just like Twelve Step programs work.

To think of ourselves as professionals (as opposed to amateurs) eliminates self-judgment and self-condemnation, both of which are weapons that our own Resistance uses against us.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you wake up every morning with that dragon in your head.

Sappho woke up that way.

Dostoevsky woke up that way.

Shakespeare woke up that way.

They all experienced a moment when they said to themselves, “I accept this as my internal reality. From this day forward, I will organize my inner resources not to yield to this negative force but to face it and overcome it.”

Repeat after me:

“My name is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________ and I have been defeated by Resistance.”

Now we can begin.


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Posted in Writing Wednesdays
23 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Getting Past No

By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 17, 2017

(This post went up almost 3.5 years ago. Bringing it back for a rerun today.)

I started this post Wednesday.

Thursday I read this from Seth Godin:

What “no” means

  • I’m too busy
  • I don’t trust you
  • This isn’t on my list
  • My boss won’t let me
  • I’m afraid of moving this forward
  • I’m not the person you think I am
  • I don’t have the resources you think I do
  • I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
  • I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
  • Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

  • I see the world the way you do, I’ve carefully considered every element of this proposal and understand it as well as you do and I hate it and I hate you.

Thursday afternoon, Jonathan Fields’ “When No Means Go” arrived in my in box.

Seems a few of us have no on the mind this week.

As the third one in the ring . . . It’s the reaction to no that’s been on my mind.
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What It Takes

What It Takes

Love Story Cheat Sheet/Conventions

By Shawn Coyne | Published: February 10, 2017

At long last, we’ve come to the end of this romantic journey.

I’ve been compiling a category-by-category cheat sheet for the must-haves of any working love story. To read the series from end to end, here are the previous five posts—1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The final topic to cover is the conventions of love story.

Conventions differ from obligatory scenes in that they are not formalized beginning, middle and end units of story. Instead they are the milieu of a particular content genre, distinct add-on elements that give the story context, which elicits an emotional response from the reader/viewer.

A convention for a lawn mower is to have a pull cord to get the engine started. You can certainly change that convention to an on/off switch, but whatever choice you make to abide the convention (a force is necessary to begin a chain reaction) you’ll need something to get the engine started. Or you’ll have little chance of cutting the yard.

So conventions evolve over time—like a pull cord to an on/off switch. Some are added and some discarded from a content genre depending upon the cultural context.

Readers intuitively expect them to be present without formally checking that they are. That is, they don’t know that they’re supposed to be there. They just know something’s off when they’re not. The story just doesn’t “feel” right. They don’t emotionally connect to it in the way they’d anticipated.

In Donald Rumsfeld-ian terms, the conventions are UNKNOWN KNOWNS.


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Posted in What It Takes | 6 Comments
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