Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Advanced Forms of Resistance

By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 20, 2013

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[We'll be sending the first half-hour audio out by e-mail on Monday. The other two will follow between then and the New Year. All are free, no sales pitches.

[If you have not yet signed up for First Look Access, do it now (upper right side of this page) and you'll get these three Ask Me Anythings.

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[Finally finally finally: from now on, Mondays on the blog will be "Ask Me Anything Mondays" where we'll put up audio (with transcript link as soon as we can get our act together) of one question and one answer from the longer sessions.

[And now, at last, today's post:]

I gashed my hand at the gym a couple of days ago. The mishap followed cracking my skull open on a shelf a few days earlier. On top of breaking my toe banging into the leg of a coffee table as I clomped barefoot across my living room—not to mention about half a dozen freak near-accidents on the freeway.

Bobby

Bobby Jones almost didn't make it to the final leg of the Grand Slam in 1930

You may think I’m crazy, but these “accidents” are Resistance.

I’ve seen this syndrome play out dozens of times with myself and with others. Toward the end of a project (I’m in the last couple of weeks of a three-year all-out effort) I’ll start breaking bones, backing into parked cars, and in general trashing my body, my mind, and all other subsidiary paraphernalia.

Why does this happen? I don’t really know. One school of thought says it’s our psyche telling us, “Stop!” Our Self wants to get us re-grounded, back into our body. Another theory (the one I agree with) says it’s pure self-sabotage. If I gash my hand open, I can’t do my normal routine at the gym. I’m thrown off. If I wreck my car, I’m embroiled in all kinds of B.S. with accident reports, the body shop, etc.

I can’t work.

Resistance has become physical. It’s trying to knock me out of the game literally.

How bad has this gotten with me? Without getting into specifics, let me say only “life-threatening.” Can you relate? I’ll bet there’s not one of us who isn’t nodding his or her head.

There’s a second advanced form of Resistance that’s happening to me now as well. I’ll talk about it at greater length in upcoming posts. That is sabotage by others. There is more than one person in my life right now who, completely unconsciously, is doing everything they can to screw me up. I’ve seen this a hundred times before too.

But back to accidents, mishaps, and other self-inflicted wounds. The phenomenon is so common that sports teams routinely anticipate it by building in precautions as the season approaches playoff time. Practices get easier. Heavy contact is forbidden. Yeah, partly it’s common sense, to avoid injury. But coaches know that injuries happen more frequently as their teams approach the World Series, the Final Four, the Superbowl.

I’ll go beyond that. I think something in the universe itself conspires against us, the closer we get to some cherished goal. There’s a famous story of the great golfer, Bobby Jones, as he approached the final leg of the Grand Slam in 1930. First a bolt of lightning hit the stone chimney of a golf clubhouse as he was hurrying toward it to get out of a storm. The blast blew chunks of brick and mortar for a hundred yards, pieces big enough “to have killed a man had [one of them] hit him in the head.”

When I got into the clubhouse, someone discovered that the back of my shirt had been ripped down to my waist and I had received on my shoulder a scratch six inches in length and just deep enough to break the skin.

A few weeks later Jones was walking down a sidewalk in Atlanta without a soul in sight “when someone [behind me] yelled, ‘Lookout, Mister.’” A car had jumped the curb and was careening straight at him. Bobby just barely leapt clear.

There was no doubt that I would have been crushed between the automobile and the building had not the lone pedestrian warned me.

I know, I know. I’m taking this way too far. But I swear: something in the electromagnetic mojo-sphere changes when we get close to the completion of our novel, our Ph.D., our start-up. It’s a law of the universe. When Resistance sees that we’re about to move to a higher level creatively, ethically, or spiritually, it begins sticking voodoo needles in dolls that look exactly like us. I can’t prove it. I’ve got no evidence. But when it happens I can feel it in the air, and I’ll bet you can too.

Why do football coaches sequester their teams at the downtown Hilton two nights before the Big Game? Why did Michael Crichton move in to the Kona Village every time he hit Crunch Time finishing a novel? Why did Ike order the Normandy divisions kept on base forty-eight hours before D-Day?

Resistance is always heaviest at the goal line.

What’s my answer when this stuff happens? It’s dicey, I admit, and usually I’m hanging on by my fingernails.

I try to stick with my routine. I stay alert. I take nothing for granted. I drive like a man with two DUI’s on his license. I don’t even walk from the kitchen into the living room without watching where I’m putting my feet.

And I still wind up breaking my toes!

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

55 Responses to “Advanced Forms of Resistance”

  1. November 20, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Powerful phenomenon that I cannot recall anyone else writing about.

    It certainly calls for an extra dose of mindfulness.

    Thanks for your perspective, Steven.

    And be careful. :)

    • November 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Ouch! I felt the pain from all of your “accidents.” I can relate to what you’re saying here. It’s the energy field, our vibrational levels that we should be careful of at all times, but especially when we are at risk of being defeated by Resistance. Thanks for this post. Really thought-provoking.

  2. Basilis
    November 20, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Mojo-sphere? That’s a good one!

    Those incidents of resistance made me think of Sisyphus somehow, not sure why!

  3. Mary
    November 20, 2013 at 4:42 am

    This theory of reverse synchronicity makes perfect sense to me. If the Muse can gather her forces to provide help and support, Resistance can surely marshal its malevolence against us when we’re racing toward an important finish line. In the meantime, watch your back (I hope your insurance agent doesn’t read this post). Keep fighting the good fight! And thanks in advance for the upcoming Monday addition of “Ask Me Anything”…really looking forward to it.

  4. Julie
    November 20, 2013 at 4:44 am

    This information is the most profound, life altering information I have ever heard. This revelation is now written on a dry erase board in my bedroom! (romantic I know.) I have two boys 12 and 15. The 12 year old is more understanding of this thought process (as 15 year olds tend to know ‘it all’) and eager to point it out in his own life. It is so valuable to me….a true gift.

  5. November 20, 2013 at 5:52 am

    I’d love to hear what you have to say about resistance that kicks in after you have finished, when you are about to put your work out into the world, and suddenly “can’t do it”, for all kinds of “reasons”.

  6. November 20, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Thank you. I guess that explains why just after I sell a painting or paint a really nice one and start dreaming about leaving real estate to paint full time I immediately get sick and strain my wrist opening a pickle jar (painting hand), eat something wrong and throw up, etc. etc.
    A new perspective! Grrrr.

    • November 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Ah, those pickle jars, Nancy. I know that one too.

    • November 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Hello Nancy,

      Can’t you pursue both? The idea of being a fulltime writer is something I’ve never given much though to. Will probably get bored to death if I do that.

      Besides writing, I need something else going.

  7. Kent Faver
    November 20, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I awoke to bad dreams last night/this morning, and cracked open a book by St. Teresa of Avila. She was convinced 500+/- years ago that Satan and evil forces were the main culprit keeping people from moving toward their higher self and creating something grand. So, I was wondering at 3:30 a.m. if Satan could be the cause for my Resistance? She states a pretty good case. Wonder if Mr. Jones would have agreed in 1930.

    • Helen
      November 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      Kent, she and many others spiritually minded (Eastern Orthodox especially) know that fact very well.

  8. Ellen Rose
    November 20, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Ouch — I have been there. For me, what makes the difference in that moment is having someone WITH me, a quiet, supportive someone who understands that crossing the chasm from almost to done takes almost more emotional strength than I have. For most of my life I have tried to soldier on, only to commit the most absurd acts of self-sabotage in the last mile of whatever creative marathon I’m attempting. For me the last mile is a high occupancy vehicle lane and I just can’t go the distance alone. Maybe that’s how the Universe reminds me to need others and to have the courage to ask for help. Or maybe it’s just something I’m not good at. With a mentor and/or a companion, I can do almost anything. But not alone.

  9. November 20, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Steven – I so much love the fact that I can enjoy your weekly posts in addition to all your other work. Thank you for yet another fundamental, thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting idea. You have this incredible talent to tell something as trivial as a gym story in a sentence and then to make it relevant to issues at the heart of our work and life.

    Wanted to share in connection with this post: In addition to getting physical – my resistance has also gotten intellectual. In other words – the smarter I get, the more sophisticated my resistance gets. Sometimes I think humans started getting smarter, just to avoid doing actual work. Yet only actual work (smart work, but work nonetheless) will help me succeed. Which is a smart point … Now … What was I doing … Reading is also a form of resistance btw … I need to stop reading except for Wednesdays.

  10. Teddy Herzog
    November 20, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Steven,

    You are on to a much bigger topic. As a rule, I never get sick. I never get hurt. Last time it was a broken ankle the week that I left my wife.

    Why is it that we wan all hang out with “germs” and “viruses” floating around us for months at a time. Then, suddenly, it is flu week. Everyone agrees. The coworkers “get” the flu, then your family, and then you. Same stuff floating in the air. Nothing has changed except that now it is “flu season”.

    Getting sick has deeper meaning – at an emotional and spiritual level – than we ever talk about.

  11. Lee
    November 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Such wonderful food for thought. Reading your posts, my assumptions about resistance are changing and for that I thank you. Years ago I learned from Clarissa Pinkolas Estes in Creative Fire that creativity comes in a flow of cycles, waves … and I have learned to respect that because attempting to force with will generally only ends up with regret. Reading this post I ask myself if the resistance you write about at the end of a creative endeavor could be,in part, simply a moving toward a natural completion and closure (that my ego resists/ loss of control). I know when my mind-body is out of balance, ‘accidents’ happen, and this post reminds me that Creation and Destruction necessarily balance each other.

  12. November 20, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Long ago, I would accidently hurt myself while performing the very last task of a building project. Ouch! My overcoming resistance ploy, which has worked for decades now, became designing the “last step”, a task or installation piece that only I could see or now about, and NOT doing it! I’ve saved a lot of blood and regretful words this way, and things I make look and work very well!

  13. Jackie
    November 20, 2013 at 6:59 am

    Holy Shit…I thought I was the only one.

  14. M
    November 20, 2013 at 7:21 am

    It does seem to be a universal force. This power is not outside you.

  15. November 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Thanks Steven. Your inspirational words arrived in my inbox at exactly the right time. As a pilot, I also like this example from Chuck Yeager:

    “Just before you break through the sound barrier, is when the cockpit shakes the most.

    Tailwinds.

    Martin

    • November 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Love that: “tailwinds.”

      Steven, If we take as a given that the outer world is a mirror of the inner world — okay, I live with this given — then the outer Resistance is just on the outside, maybe more insidious. I have experienced this accident-prone-ness. For me it has shown up as stomach distress that heightens when I have a chance to step up my game and be seen more.

  16. November 20, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Wonderful! This is so timely – this happened to me just yesterday. Going through my routine of working out and setting up my mind for the day when the dog barked and i twisted myself somewhere i shouldn’t and ended up stretched out on the floor for an hour – Oh, yes – at the time I blamed the dog, but realize it is just that – resistance saying, ‘Oh, you think you will have that breakthrough on the outline today, do you? Well,try and focus with this!” And even though I barreled on with work it derailed me from one project and I worked on another. Pesky little creature. I think you hit it on the head – it’s our fear manifesting itself into resistance that causes these freak moments in our bodies and relieves us of doing the work – giving us an excuse for not achieving certain goals or successes. When that happens I call upon the Genius in the wall (was that Greek or Roman, I forget) and have her lend a hand – I sent resistance off for aspirin – he’s still not back…

  17. November 20, 2013 at 7:53 am

    It makes perfect sense to me on a metaphysical level. If you’re doing something that you’ve never done before aka crossing a personal barrier then your brain and body are operating at a level that they’ve never been at. They’re in overdrive, in hyperspeed. The focus on your work causes you to move different around the environment and the environment isn’t used to that, now things are falling in front of you, your balance with a familiar object is skewed, things crumble in your presence.

    If what you’re doing is new to the world, if no one’s done it before, it’s because many have approached that threshold but due to the “freak accidents” haven’t had the guts to complete it. For you to go where no man has gone before you’ll have to go through things no man has gone before. A perfect sign that THIS IS your calling. Go for it! Keep going Steve, tread nimbly but powerfully!

  18. Caron Harris
    November 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Just realized that attacks of bad feelings toward everyone are the same thing. I am trying to go up a belt rank in American Jiu Jitsu, and yesterday something happened at work and now I hate everybody! So distracting from the task at hand. I feel much better now that I’ve read this blog. I can let it go and calm down until the next attack. Thank you, Steven Pressfield! Onward and awkward! :^)

  19. Greg Crone
    November 20, 2013 at 8:10 am

    An example of this phenomenon in the movies is the police officer who is about to retire who gets shot on his last day on the job. Another example from real life: My father-in-law, who was a carpenter for 40 years and never had an accident, fell off a ladder and then shot his hand with a nail gun on his last week of work before retirement.

  20. Stelios
    November 20, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I’d love to chalk this up to superstitious nonsense, but I’ve experienced too many “coincidences” to just dismiss it outright. Such as:

    Just this morning, after I got my writing done, read this article, and then took out the trash, a small tree branch nearly fell on me in my drive way.

    A couple weeks ago, I began making some great headway on my novel. Things really started falling into place. Well guess what? That’s when I got a nasty chest cold/flu, that pretty much left me bed ridden for a whole weekend. So I read a lot and wrote when I could.

    A year an a half ago, just as I was in the homestretch of completing my master’s thesis, my computer decided to go wonky. I thought it was dying. I had to spend a crucial afternoon trying to back up my files instead of working.
    After my thesis was submitted and I successfully defended it, my computer went back to normal. It didn’t have a virus. There was nothing wrong with the hardware. It just started acting wonky–just because.

    Even if you don’t believe in the “bad mojo,” all of these are instances why you shouldn’t procrastinate. You never know what screwball thing will happen that might disrupt your work–just when you really need to get the work done. For example, if that branch would have hit me, at least I got my morning writing routine done. I made progress today.

  21. November 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Oh this rings so true! I have a theory. I think it’s about being outside the body. You know, that space/time thingie where you aren’t aware that time’s passing and you’re getting all this great work done? And then you walk right into the sliding glass door? I firmly agree with you, Steve, it’s Resistance trying to keep us earthbound, body-bound.

    I believe the Muse is in her magic spaceship, dropping inspiration on us and that lifts us just a tiny bit off the planet. Then Resistance comes along, stubs our toe and BLAM…we’re back in the body on planet Earth.

    It can be dangerous to fly with the eagles!!!

  22. November 20, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I just realized that the long insightful comment I was going to post here is a form of resistance, as is reading all of the other wonderful, insightful comments here.

    Dang! Resistance is insidious! Thanks for the warning Steven.

  23. Sonja
    November 20, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Omg, Steven! You cracked me up with the line, “Without getting into specifics, let me only say, “life threatening.” I laughed because I so relate!

    For me its right in the middle of a project, I flail and find ways to piss off my time, and mysteriously get a cough/sniffles so I better go rest…

    Thank you for your breathtaking honesty, and for making all of us feel less alone with our Resistance.

    Much love,
    Sonja

  24. John
    November 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Is that why I had bronchitis last week and popped my kneecap this morning?

  25. November 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    it made me laugh, but at the same time it’s food for thought. even if resistance doesn’t get so physical in my case, i still feel it stronger than ever when the finish line is in sight.

  26. Joel
    November 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I quote you often, Stephen, when, in _The War of Art, you say to Resistance: Die, Motherfucker!

    She is a tricky one, Resistance, and so pretty!

  27. Benthe Hurup
    November 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I agree :-) Gay Hendricks wrote about it in his ” The Big Leap” – but how to avoid OTHER people to obstruct you?

  28. avalon medina
    November 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Hmmm. Well, I suppose here’s a simile: Last week, I ran my 15th marathon (that’s not that much; am only enumerating to clarify that I clearly don’t have any excuses) and there were Plenty of plans, expectations, realistic goals, all your own favorite topics–as well as a couple of lines of “self-talk” just in case I don’t have the expected race of my life. Well, 9 miles in it began, and everything ended–just so to speak. “The best-laid plans” went to hell and “I” had to take over. The longer it went on, the worse it got, the same thing you’re discussing. Without further graphics, the finish line was your basic positive-split death march; but the only thing that got me there were those few little lines of self-talk–having to do with what distraction really is and having to do with trusting, letting everything go as it goes and just finish the job, quietly.

    The only place in my own idea where you go awry, Steve, is, first, the apparent paranoia you’re dishing out for whomever’s benefit; as well as saying anything, Anything, about that which is “conspiring against…” That’s not real in my book.

  29. Kevin Jones
    November 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    The timing of this post is amazing. As an avid rock climber for almost 20 years, I’ve noticed that when I train hard to get face-to-face with a goal, something seems to happen and I’m set back… I’m on the verge of setting a new record for myself in climbing, and so am paying attention this time! This issue has occurred with my writing, as well.

    I think this phenomenon is good old-fashioned self-doubt, driven by the voices of parents, teachers, and coaches over the years– whoever thought the way to spur us to greatness was ridicule, harsh critique, downplaying dreams. So now we get close to a goal, the voices return and manifest into accidents, illness, “problems.”

    My approach these days is to maintain my discipline, stay aware of self-doubts or sabotage, and keep working. Great post, Steven.

  30. Mike N
    November 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Great post. Wanted to throw something a little less “mysterious” into the mix. Humans only have so much cognitive energy to devote to certain tasks. After expending enough of it, the brain/body has trouble doing even the most menial tasks (read about Navy SEALs BUD/S training and you’ll understand what I’m talking about).

    Picture it like a cognitive bucket, and once you use it all up, there’s no more left. The closer you get to finishing something, the more energy/focus you’re using to complete the task, the less energy/focus you have to complete other tasks.

    Still Resistance, just with a different explanation. Hope you heal up soon!

  31. Eleatic Stranger
    November 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Since Resistance is actually indifferent and without personality, like gravity, Advanced Resistance may similarly involve absence, and mirror and reveal something spiritually important (but easily forgotten) about the end of a project.

    Maybe we should think of the Muses as saying something like this, in three stages, with Steve’s concept of Advanced Resistance as the third stage:

    The Muse at Phase 1. “I’ve given you the joy of starting. Most people with creative vision don’t even start. Aren’t you glad you started?

    The Muse at Phase 2. “I’ve given you the joy of disciplining yourself, finding a way to meet Resistance every day with a lunchpail mentality, coming to identify with the process not the product, and getting 99% to the end. Most people who start do not get that far. Aren’t you glad you got this far?”

    The Muse at Phase 3. “Finally, I am offering the joy of completion, which consists largely in moving on and repeating the cycle of phases with a new project, and a new line of development for your creative life. However, the joy of completion is special. When I give it to people, there is always the temptation that they will overidentify with the completed product, and brag or rest on their laurels, rather than go right back to Phase 1. It would not be good for you if I supported that kind of behavior. I want my servants to stay on their toes. So, I want you to be sick and tired of this project, so that you do not identify with it too much. Instead of bragging or resting on your laurels, you’ll say: “I’m so relieved I got that project out of the way and on to the next one. It gave me some creative hard knocks at the end, but I took the blows, kept on coming, made it past the finish line, and then got right back into the rhythm of my more civilized daily interaction with the Muses on my next project, my next job serving the Muses, my next chance to keep my creative life going”.”

    A new group of Muses to Steve: “See you in a couple weeks.”

  32. Jasvir Singh Samrai
    November 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Many years ago I had the great opportunity to work alongside a therapist who had worked with the UN settling disputes between tribes in Africa. From this friend and mentor I learnt about a controlling force in each of our lives, what he referred to as a ’script’. I do believe this script is unique to each one of us, but what is universal it supports or hinders our growth. I also believe it is appropriate to call it resistance here.
    His solution was for me to imagine this resistance like a large slivering snake always present wherever I go. The moment I ignored it, it would bite. What was important was never to lose sight of it. It would always be a constant in my life.
    In time we moved on and in the last ten years I made a new life for myself in America setting up a franchise in California. What was wonderful my mentor tracked me down and after fourteen years we were able to convene our conversations. He asked me how my family members had handled my new success in America I sadly replied ‘all hell broke loose!”.
    Mr Pressfield thank you for your honesty and lessons, it allows me to find support elsewhere and away from the naysayers who sadly can be those very close to us. I also have the common sense not to judge them for what is in play is pure and simply ‘resistance’ in disguise.

  33. Claude Knaus
    November 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I am finishing my PhD, so I can relate. There are forces which are getting in my way. Everytime—it feels like everyday now— I have to overcome them to make one step closer to my goal. Never felt such strong resistance.

  34. Heidi
    November 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! This Resistance kicks in for me the minute I commit to something important. It doesn’t even wait until I’m close to the finish line. :) I used to take It as a sign that I was on the wrong path. Man, my Resistance had it easy — I would give up if It just looked at me funny. Thanks to you Steven, I now understand what is going on and I quietly carry on with whatever I can still do even with a sprained hand or illness. People must think I’m getting in bar fights all the time with all the bandages and bruises I have. My new mantra is “find a way.”

    • November 24, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      I’ve read Steven’s book four times in three years. I get something different and a refresher course each time. Part of me doesn’t want to believe Resistance exists and yet I see it every day. Courage builder, for sure. Bring it. I’m ready!

  35. November 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    So I’m at the precipice of yet another venture (at 48). The one that I think will lead to that road I’ve been seeking. You know, the one that if you don’t find, you’ll freeze and starve to death in the cold wood. I email a friend whom I dearly respect all giddy at what I’ve accomplished so far and where I think it’s going. No reply for several weeks and counting. No reply is the worst kind of reply. I’ve already heard all the things he’s thinking and how full of shit I am…in my head.

    That’s okay, I’m going to stay busy… get back into shape again after a bad hamstring pull this time last year. Join Judo with my son…spend time together. To be safe I go to the doctor just to make sure I can start full bore again. I get the news from him that I’ve suffered a complete (and utter) proximal hamstring rupture. I tore the whole damn thing off. I’m a bit gimpy at the moment.

    That’s okay, I’m going to get out there and network and shake hands and do deals. After all, I have so much to offer with this new thing. I develop a terrible rash on my head and face. Hmmm.

    Do I believe in “Advanced Forms of Resistance”. Hell yes, I do.

    But I accomplish something in spite of it all. I send out one inquiry to one potential business partner. A measly thing. But at least I pick up the club and swing. A 76 yard drive…but that damn ball is on the green.

    I break through because I hang onto words that I recently read (in Do The Work), “Start Before You’re Ready”. I’m certainly not ready for anything at the moment, but I start anyway. Thanks Steve.

  36. November 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Wonderful, thank you Steven!

  37. November 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you. I was getting the sense that Resistance could get physical if the mental didn’t work. Thank for confirming it. However, I’m just starting to getting back into writing. If it’s this bad at the start, I don’t know if I can survive to the finish. Several hundreds of dollars of double billings. The money we expect to get back, the hours on the phone to get it back we won’t. One 911 call so far, tongue swells at night, threatening to block breathing. 2nd print head failure in a year. Wife’s cholesterol has dropped to dangerous levels. The hits just keep on coming. :(

  38. Anja
    November 21, 2013 at 1:37 am

    First of all, I love your work and it has helped me tremendously, so thank you so much.
    I also recognize Resistance in many ways in my own creative efforts, but I really think you’re taking this too far right now. “I think something in the universe itself conspires against us” sounds a bit paranoid to me.
    I’ve read a book based on scientific research called Willpower that talks about ‘ego depletion’. When you use up all your (creative) energy you clearly become less able to handle even the simplest of tasks. Other commenters have pointed to this as well I see. It could be that at the end of your creative project your body is just simply tired and therefore you get clumsy and bump into things. It’s could just be a physical consequence of using up all your energies.
    Next to that you could also view this in a positive way. Maybe this is not Resistance trying to stop you but just your body telling you you should take a break for a day and refresh your energies :)

  39. Christine
    November 21, 2013 at 4:03 am

    I’d like to write a long, meaningful comment, but I must go pack to move into my very own Kona Village.

  40. Douglas
    November 21, 2013 at 6:58 am

    The two forces that have driven my life have been artistic expression, and spirituality. I saw a mirror of myself in Steven’s excellent book The War of Art and it has become for me a sort of holy book in the pursuit of the creative life.
    The other books i turned to, which later lead me to find personal instruction with teachers, have been those of the wisdom traditions of the east, and specifically those of Buddhism. I studied for ten years with a Tibetan lama in Texas and then for an additional three years with another in Virginia.
    Rigorous formal debate is alive and well within the Gelukba school of Tibetan Buddhism, of which it is one of the four schools that developed, and the one in which i was instructed in the most. A monk in pursuit of their doctorate title of Geshe will spend 8 hours a day easily, if not more, analyzing down to the very subtlest degree what is real and what is not.
    Guess what? They will tell you the very same thing Steven has proposed in this essay. After they have finished their degree and have gone into the traditional retreat of intense meditation for three years and three months, the protection cords come out, the rituals to prevent obstacles are performed, and they begin. These practices are performed again and again through out the long pursuit to achievement. They very much believe in what Steven has written about here. A great boon or achievement brings forth great obstacles to its attainment.
    I know it is only my own perception but i hold these monks attempt to look at what is the truth of reality in very high regard and they fully believe that these forces are at work within the universe. In fact, the very last moment before the Buddha obtained his enlightenment was spent overcoming three obstacles Mara, the greatest of all demons, manifested before him.

  41. November 21, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Reminds me of an aspect in Steven King’s most recent, 11/22/63, his time-traveling adventure built around stopping Oswald from killing JFK.

    It’s a heck of a read, but why I bring it here is how in the story “History doesn’t want to be changed” And the more significant the event, the more RESISTANT to change history becomes.

    As the protagonist moves closer and closer to Oswald, circumstances impeding him become increasingly severe. Fascinating connection.

  42. Laura Mameesh
    November 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Greatly appreciate this post, Steve. Your continuous courage of opening yourself up and revealing your very real, very human, experience shows us how to write and how to live. It shows us we’re not alone and that there is a way through, messy thought it might be.

    “Traveler, there is no path – the path is made by walking”
    -Machado

  43. John Thomas
    November 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I’m going through this right now.

    The last few months have left me almost ground to dust. I’m finally coming out of it. There is a reason for everything. I am the hero of my own story and like any good story, there are no accidents. Every trial is a test.

    I think of football as an analogy. When a team gets to the 10 yd line of the their opponent (inside the redzone). The field becomes so much smaller that it becomes easier to defend. Yet teams score anyway.

  44. November 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Loved it. I’m always annoyed at those who overdo the “if you want something bad enough the universe conspires in your favor” Paulo-Coelho kind of thing. Next time I see one, I’ll give’em something to chew on: “If you want something bad enough, then f*cking do it despite the universe inevitably conspiring to destroy you.” :D

  45. November 23, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I have experienced this phenomenon. The list of calamities that happened just before and for years after my Mrs. Iptweet book came out is long and tragic! I don’t think it’s the “Universe” acting on its own though. I think, and this is what I have learned from the Science of Mind teachings, that it’s our own subconscious beliefs about what we can and cannot have/do/experience that vibe out and create the havoc. No matter the why of it, I find it important now to spend time in meditation, journal writing, and I may have to add Check-in-to-a-padded-hotel to my list. Thanks for the post.

  46. November 24, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I fell in love with you on the Oprah special. I had read The War of Art and it made total sense but hearing you speak about it, and seeing your kind, generous way with Oprah was heartwarming.
    This post reminds of – don’t laugh- the line in a Taylor Swift song that goes,”people throw rocks at things that shine”. I guess that would include the universe as well.
    Sometimes life feels like an arcade game with new obstacles popping up as soon as you shoot one down but it’s not like we have a choice to do anything but go through it. Resistance can definitely impede the creative process but it can never erase the need in us to create.
    Thank you so much for giving us new perspectives to help us dance while fettered to this unwilling partner.

  47. December 6, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Have you ever read “Inanimate Objection” by H. Chandler Elliott? If not, the right time is now. That novel treats what you call “resistance” rather as a force of nature like gravity. http://vintage45.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/spectrum-edited-by-kingsley-amis-robert-conquest/

  48. Susan Lander
    December 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

    So true! I just got the first content edit back from my publisher…along with (in the last two weeks) a concussion, a broken foot, and a infected tooth. Geez.

  49. December 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Three years? Makes me feel better about the two-plus years I’ve just put in.

    I know you’ve studied some Kabbalah, Steve, so the idea that Resistance (or the Yetzer Hara – Evil Inclination – in mystical terms) ramps up its efforts the closer we get to the goal comes right out of “measure for measure.” The cliche “darkest before the dawn” expresses the same idea.

    It makes sense, of course, because the purpose of Resistance is to elicit our best work. No tennis without the net! So when we think we’re doing our best, along comes Resistance/Yetzer Hara to say, prove it.

    It’s also the axiom in narrative: just when the protagonist thinks he or she has won – boom – comes the unexpected larger monster-problem, and the protagonist has to summon strengths of reserve he or she didn’t realize or believe were there.

    The unanswered question is, how do the great ones fight through that resistance, that last stand of the yetzer hara? In part, it’s as you say – stick to the routine. Trust the routine that got you there. But in part, there’s got to be something else. If both teams follow routine, sequester players, etc., yet one has already fought the final battle against Resistance/Yetzer Hara, so the game itself is the focus – what’s the difference?

    I don’t know the answer. I’m going to do some research and deep thinking. I’ll let you know what I find out.