Overcoming Resistance

If you’re like me, you may encounter resistance every once in a while. Well, actually I encounter it all the time…in going to the gym, waking up in the morning, even sometimes in surrendering to sleep at night. Sometimes I really do feel like sitting down to write songs but other times I feel a strong resistance to it. Even though I know writing and making things in general makes me happy and even though I’ve put out six full-length albums to date and read “The War of Art” (if you haven’t read this, it’s awesome!) resistance still rears her head in my life!

The following video includes a couple of tips I use to work with my friend resistance :)

Just yesterday I had set aside an hour and a half to work on some new songs for my next album. I was excited about it and then the time came. I had done all of my administrative-type work in the morning and my older daughter was now at school. It was my time to finally sit down at the piano! And then, something happened. My brain was like: “Well I should probably get a cup of coffee, I think I want to eat something, I should probably take a nap because I’m really tired, my brain was thinking of ANY excuse not to sit down at the piano. Why? I don’t know! My theory is that it’s my ego. My ego doesn’t want to sit down to write unless it is guaranteed an outcome and of course in the creative process you are never guaranteed a specific outcome :)

So what did I do to overcome this resistance? Well I tried two little tricks. One I coaxed myself by saying: “Anne if you sit down at the piano and find that after 10 minutes you aren’t having fun, you can forget it and go get that delicious cup of coffee. There’s no pressure to keep writing if it’s not fun.”

The other thing I did was I offered myself a specific reward. You could offer yourself anything you love. You could tell yourself you’ll get to go to the beach later, or read a chapter of your favorite book, or watch a silly movie later that night. I think I offered myself a glass of wine later that evening (even though I’m not much of a drinker) but for the younger writers, I’m sure you can think of something fun and appropriate!

Really adults (or at least this adult, a.k.a me) are like children. We need coaxing and help with transitions. In this case, transitioning INTO doing creative work.

Of course some part of me knew that once I sat down at the piano I’d get lost in the magic of music-making and the hour and a half would fly by. And that’s exactly what happened! I didn’t need to get up after 10 minutes, I forgot about the coffee (until later anyway ;-) ) and  I had a joyous time working with my muse and almost finishing two songs. Later I still rewarded myself :)

Do you encounter resistance when writing or making things? If so, what do you do to overcome it? Please leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear your secret ninja moves!

Love, Anne

9 thoughts on “Overcoming Resistance

  1. I use the tricks you use too. But I just started doing something that really works. I call it ididit (I did it). When I’m backlogged, overwhelmed or not following my TO DO list, I do a few small things and mutter under my breath, “i did it”… then I do another and another. It’s weird, like a magic potion, you sort of get on a roll. And if anybody’s listening, yes, I guess I’m talking to myself.

  2. Great post! I have exactly the same problem.

    I tend to get so much more accomplished when I have a lot to do. During the times when I have only a small list of projects I tend to get distracted and do laundry, clean, organize things, etc. I am a great procrastinator!

    I will try out your methods and see if they will work for me!

    • Oh Rebecca, I know what you mean! Sometimes I tend to “up the anti” for myself just for this reason. If I have 3 hours to do something, I’ll take that long. 30 minutes, 30 minutes :)

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement! Definitely going to embrace my down time (though seldom) with some music and perhaps a well deserved glass of wine to conclude the first week!

      It’s been a while since I’ve personally read the article, but after re-skimming it, the heart of it is truly about avoiding excessive multitasking (which I feel as though many of us busy minded people end up doing). In one case in the article it explains that a group focusing on a single task, “used a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is known to be important for creating rich and flexible memories of the past,” while a different part of the brain was being used by multitaskers. It seems to beg the question then, how might this processing influence the upcoming generation’s attention spans and ability to absorb information.. Something to percolate on! :]

      Article link: http://projectinfolit.org/smart-talks/item/109-russell-poldrack

  3. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to track down the specific statistics I was looking for (the to-do list is long today!), but I liken this idea of ‘tricks’ to the concept that we can only stay focused on a task for so long before our brains begin to feel overloaded. This year I’ve started student teaching high school juniors, an age at which paying attention is important and difficult. Somewhere I believe there was a study that said students can only stay on task for about 30 minutes and then it goes down hill from there. Equally, there was an interesting survey I read a while back about how mediums, such as cell phones, have actually trained our brains to use other parts of the brain to process information, actually altering the way we absorb and focus on information (and the focus time was very, very short). I think the big thing for me, then, is knowing that there comes a point where it might be better for me to mix it up, rather than trudge on. Most times, I try to do what you do, Anne, and promise myself a reward. It seems to me, though, that a small reward to mix it up would help.. Perhaps allowing yourself to get a little snack instead of the dinner you’re longing for in order to hold you over, do something that helps the oxygen flow, or even sit down briefly to just let yourself pause. In giving yourself a small reward or break though, I think it’s important to remind yourself that in X amount of minutes, it’s time to get back at it because you’ve allowed yourself enough time to recharge.

    Love your reflective thoughts, though. Very timely post for quite a busy feeling month! :]

    • Melea, yes definitely, I hear you! I know what you mean about mixing it up vs. trudging on. And of course, nature is a great healer and inspirer so taking a break in nature is awesome. I hadn’t heard about our brains processing information differently – I’d be very interested in reading that! Thanks for commenting and good luck with the high school juniors this year!

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