Thursday, August 19

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, August 19, 2010 22 comments Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. What is Resistance? It's your inner hard place, my friend. The seat of fear and of just keeping it safe. This part of you avoids doing the hard thing that has the power to change the world because...get this...succeeding would mean personal transformation, which involves death and rebirth as someone else, monstrous and wonderful. Every single day of writing life is a battle with this drive inside you. Pressfield argues that the writing itself isn't half as hard as actually keeping your butt in the chair and working, day after day, no matter what.

Does this all sounding frighteningly familiar as you sit here reading my blog instead of writing?? Uh huh, I thought so. Pressfield's insights are so dead-on, I very well may be blogging them for weeks. So stay tuned for further installments.

But now, I'm going to type up what I wrote on the train this AM. Because my inner coward isn't going to win. Not today.

Tell me about your battles with your inner coward. What does she say to you? How do you deal with her?


  1. I have a lot of coward in me. I think it holds my mind back a lot. I try to push it aside though by just writing and reading what I have written. Also, I'm trying to take time a learn something that may help my writing.
    It's a constant battle though. Today, the coward is taking over. *beating it with a stick*

  2. This reminds me a lot of "The Courage to Write," which I read recently. It was also on target for me, though not on all his points. Right now, I'm having to let my plot/characters/setting simmer in my brain and it's been darn hard NOT forcing things. Some things you don't want to force into the wrong mold. So I'm trying to do productive, learning things while not holding my breath, wondering if I'll ever write another book. Of course I will. My brain's just percolating and I think we need to give ourselves time to do that, too. Ya know?

  3. That's great - inner coward. So true. He's dead on accurate. It is really the fear of success that blocks us - me, anyway. I think of the What-ifs in the backlash, and the Who am I to be successful bug. Then, you ARE indeed a new person. You've taken a risk into the unfamiliar.

  4. Laurel, Mary reminded me this morning of your wonderful blog. I've had a hard time keeping up. But this was well worth the read -- thanks. Don't you love coming across books that bring such vast amounts of insight? Oftentimes this insight is something we've known but when someone voices it, we grab on and say, "Yes!" And it empowers us to empower others, as you've done here. Good for your for eying the Inner Coward and challenging her to move beyond the distractions and excuses that keep you from being all that you were created to be!

  5. Old habits are hardest to break and right up top for me is kicking myself if I'm not perfect. At everything. That's a darn nuisance. So I was inspired by Molly O'Neill at WriteOnCon when she said we should give ourselves permission to be where we are on our journey. That takes a lot of pressure off.

  6. My inner coward tells me that my writing just isn't enough - isn't interesting enough, isn't worthy enough, isn't fun enough . . . you get the picture. The only answer for me is just to write anyway, and pray.

  7. My inner coward sometimes keeps me away from writing for months at a time. Eventually, I miss it enough or my hubby gives me a push to get going again. :-)

  8. My inner coward is supported by fear. The fear of the unknown. It is just like the seasons, we must allow the process of the old to be replaced by the new. We need to let go of our old ways, our safety, so that we can again come to life.

  9. I had to overcome a lot when I went deaf 5 1/2 years ago. Whenever my inner critic tramples me, the woman who superseded the box people placed her in due to a disability - chimes up LOUD and clear. I've overcome impossible odds already, I'm not about ready to let my insecurities get the better of me now.

    I use my fear and turn it around to write in-depth psychological characters. (Hugs)Indigo

  10. I don't have an inner coward but I do have a 'silly' voice and a 'sensible' voice. At time the silly voice runs shrieking in circles while bouncing off the inside of my skull.. the sensible voice has to slap her.

  11. Love this post! I think the coward that lives in thrives on seeing me walk away from the writing seat. My prayer has been to be diligent to the areas that God has called me to, and writing is one of those areas.

  12. went all deep on us today!

    Off to my thoughtful spot to ponder inner coward...

  13. I can be such a big coward!!! I'm better when I focus on the very next thing and forget all about that big scary picture :)

  14. my coward is always in conflict with the part of me that has to create. what a conundrum!

  15. My inner coward is BFFs with my fear! I get afraid I'll be putting so much work into something I love without getting anywhere with it. Of course that can't be true, though. Hard work breeds successful results. We learn that when we're children! But sometimes my inner coward gets in the way of my good sense, haha.

    I just sit my butt down and write through it. The hardest part for me is just starting. Once I get through the first several minutes, my cowardice and fear dissipates...until next time, that is!

    I'm looking forward to more of your posts on Pressfield's insights!

  16. Hi Laurel -

    Pressfield nailed it. Subconciously, we know if we travel down the writing path, it will require a higher level of commitment.

    Until daily time in the Word became the norm, I experienced the same struggle. Both areas require surrender.

    Susan :)

  17. Christine: You're so right that the real battle is within one's self. Keep writing, keep beating that coward back. She's a bully and bullies always back down when you confront them.

    Victoria: You really can't write a story from nothing and ideas do need to percolate, but don't let that become an excuse to not put in time on your project. Note taking and research take time too. Forward motion is the goal.

    Mary: I was really shaken by Pressfield's idea of fear of success. Personal transformation is the biggest unknown that hits very close to home.

  18. Roxane: Good to see you again. This book is a bit world-shaking in a good way. Realizing I have met the enemy and the enemy is ME is both empowering and challenging indeed. I hope these posts do prove encouraging, as you say.

    Tricia: Perfectionism is Resistance. It's your inner coward holding you back. Just keep showing up. Forward motion, not perfection. Go, Tricia, go!

    Tyrean: YES! keep writing and pray. That's Pressfield's advice too. Control what you can (showing up, treating it like a job, developing craft) and leave room for the divine to work through you.

    Shannon: You really should get this book ASAP. It is really eye-opening and will keep you from those long drifts.

    JeMA: Pressfield compares our writerly selves to Madonna, who remakes herself frequently.

  19. Indigo: Remembering places of victory--where you've overcome the odds--is a powerful tool against future fear. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Nicole: I LOVE how you conceive of the inner coward and inner pro. The coward is a silly twit who the inner pro makes toe the line.

    Tamika: Absolutely. Resistance doesn't want us being diligent. It will change the comfy status quo too much. Thankfully we have the spirit to help us in our weakness. (Pressfield says something similar, though he conceives of the divine in a rather peculiar manner...)

    Lola: have some hunney on me in your thoughful spot. (And my inner resistance sounds just like Eeyore, BTW) :-)

    Jemi: Pressfield has great advice on beating Resistance. I'll share more soon.

  20. Michelle: The coward fears most our creative self--because it has the power to change us so radically.

    Laura: You've nailed it. The battle is to keep working consistently. And we face the battle anew every single time we sit down. No matter how many published books one has under her belt, this basic battle is part of the process.

    Susan: Right. That "higher calling" aspect of creativity is what creates resistance. Resistance wants us to stay comfortably the same rather than let divine calling change us into something unfamiliar. The surrender aspect of discipline is something he doesn't discuss directly, but I agree with your conception of it.

  21. Absolutely!

    I had a battle with that inner coward just the other day because of my edits. But any time I sit down anyway is a victory. The inner coward never wins. :-)

  22. Laurel:
    My inner coward keeps me from thinking my writing is good enough for magazines to purchase.