In a captivating blend of spirituality, psychology, and logic Steven Pressfield discusses a problem plaguing the world today. Everyone who feels like there is a hole in their life, a midlife crisis around the corner, or a deep level of regret is fighting an internal fight against the most resilient and adaptable virus: resistance. The topic is broken into manageable chunks to help get a better grip on the situation as a whole and what to do about it. First, the problem is defined, the symptoms are discussed, and the prescriptions are delivered. Next, the plan for recovery is set, the obstacles are outlined, and the end goal is defined. Finally, the hard truth is revealed: this is not something that can be necessarily overcome. It is a battle to be fought over and over again until it becomes second nature.
So I’ve worked customer service for a personal development and life coaching company. The whole idea of resistance was familiar, but Pressfield took a different perspective, one that is specific to writers and artists. I found his approach to be more helpful than others I’ve become familiar with.
The main point of this book is quite simple: act like a professional and you will begin to see results. This is exactly what Stephen King wrote in his book, On Writing, though he used different words. Essentially, if you want to be a writer then you have to treat it like a full time job. Set apart a writing time at the same time every day then commit yourself to writing for the duration of that time without fail. Whether you write for an hour or two or even six, the key to success is being consistent and being serious about your work. The promise both authors make is that if you do this, you’re half way to becoming a professional writer.
However, Pressfield approaches the matter a bit differently than King. “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write” (xiii). Pressfield argues that the real problem I face as a writer is this force that tries to do everything within its power to distract me and convince me that I can’t succeed. From my experience in my writing, and talking to other people who are trying to become writers, this is true. I have one friend who has been trying to write a book for years, but now has to spend a great deal of her time taking care of her infant son and has very little time to do anything but take care of him and the house. Some would argue that she has no time and this isn’t her fault; Pressfield would argue that we can always make time for those things we truly love. But that being said, I don’t consider myself in a position to judge.
Now think about your day for a minute: is there something you really want to do? That you’ve dreamed about doing for years, but just haven’t had the time or the energy to actually do? Maybe more important things come up that take you away from what you want to do? I’m thinking about my day and I what I realized is that there are 24 hours in the day. I spend 8 hours sleeping, 1 hour getting ready for the day, roughly 3 hours preparing and eating meals, and working about 5 hours a day at my actual job. That leaves 7 hours of the day left: what am I doing with it? I can take a couple hours to spend writing and blogging each morning or evening. The truth is most of us have more time than we think we do.
So think about that dream you’ve been sitting on for years. Set a time to start working on it. As a friend once told me, if you take the two hours that most people spending watching a movie everyday and use it do develop a skill, then by the end of a year you will have spent 730 hours doing something you’ve always wanted to do. What could you do with 730 hours?