Creative Pursuit, Meet Resistance

by Dani Fankhauser

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, he introduces a concept called Resistance. In fact, he personifies it. Resistance is a force that wants to maintain the status quo. Whether you are writing a book, starting a business, having a child, or some other creative pursuit, you have likely experienced this force that convinces you to wait another day or that failing is too big a risk.

By naming this force, it helps us work past it.

I would suggest that there is a second Resistance — the stage when the creative work is done and you’re getting ready to introduce it into the world. With both my startup, ReadThisNext, and my book, Shameless, I remember fighting through Resistance when I was turning them from an idea into a thing. That was a challenging step, but in both situations the force came back stronger than ever when it was time to release my creations into the world. Let me explain how that played out.

I decided in early 2017 to write Shameless, and that I would publish it by the end of the year.

When it was August, I had already sent the manuscript to several friends for feedback, hired a developmental editor and a copyeditor, designed the cover myself, and of course, spent nights and weekends writing and rewriting the 14,000 words on top of having a full-time job. The book itself was written, but the marketing efforts — arguably just as important for a self-published author — were just getting started.

By September, I had run into an interpersonal issue at work, so serious that I considered quitting. On vacation, my mind scrambled through the options: stay at work and come home feeling depressed and powerless, or start interviewing for other jobs. Neither of these options was complementary to announcing and releasing a book about the vulnerable topics of sex and religion. Job searching would take time and come with rejection, and continuing to engage in a poor relationship was sucking away my energy.

Then, the book recommendations app I launched in late 2015 (and haven’t updated since) started getting loads of new downloads. We’re talking 1,000 new users in a single day after getting about two new users per week for the past two years — the surge likely due to an iOS App Store feature. This sounds like a good problem to have, but admittedly, one of the key features of the app was broken. I was tempted to take a weekend to fix it — all these new users were going to have a bad experience and never come back — but just like applying for jobs, this was a time-consuming project and would interfere with getting the book out. So I set aside my pride and let it be.

Finally, I got a notice from the IRS because of a discrepancy on a past tax return. In this case I couldn’t put things off, I had to ask for an extension, hire an accountant, and dig through my bank statements and emailed receipts to sort things out.

None of these things are totally out of the ordinary, but they are crises I’ve dealt with this year that happened in succession just as I was getting ready to announce my book. I was tempted to push back the release date a few months until I got things straightened out and under control but I knew that was Resistance speaking. The more I waited, the more crises would come up and the weaker I would be in my response.

In a move to defend creative pursuits everywhere, I stuck with my goal. Now that Resistance has seen what it’s up against — a writer who doesn’t give in — maybe it will cut me some slack.

The key to getting past Resistance is first to name it and recognize the part it plays. It is an expected reality when you are doing important work. This knowledge then allows you to recalibrate the importance of your creative work, and the loss to yourself and others if you were to give up. When your creative work is completed and released it will be all the more a milestone because of the Resistance you’ve overcome.

About the author: Dani Fankhauser is a journalist and creative writer who works on custom content campaigns for brands at Mashable. Subscribe to her newsletter to get occasional updates on her projects.

More from this author.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store