War of Art James Kiesewetter

War of Art

Creating something is difficult. Then once you create something, sharing it is difficult too.

I recently talked with a local musician. He mentioned how hard it is to get on social media and how he has social anxiety... as ironic as that sounds (being in a profession where he plays very personal things in front of people he doesn't know). But he said he can hide behind his music, the guitar, the words, his voice. He can perform an original song that is so vulnerable and deep to him but he can still, in his own way, hide behind it when performing in front of people.

For me, in a way, I can hide behind the book I wrote. I'm not talking directly to a camera or to anyone, It's just out in the world. Somehow I can write a novel that discusses, the most personal and vulnerable things I could ever write about. In essence, the book is every perspective and feeling I gathered while working on overcoming the fear that I could die at any moment. One of the characters in my book reads a couple of journal entries from grieving after losing his cousin... those are mine. Jake, that same character, explains the catalyst of being afraid to die was after losing a close friend at age 18... that's me. Somehow amidst all of that, it feels like I can hide behind the words.

Something that I think is stressful about social media is the idea that you don't know who will see or be impacted by your creations, the musician and I shared this feeling. When he performs a song or opens up for someone, the people in the audience are the ones who are receiving it, it is tangible even if you don't know any of the people listening. It feels like you're more in control of where your creation is going, even though these people you don't know are posting it to their stories, etc. but somehow it feels that way.

People I don't know buy my book but somehow people reading my innermost thoughts is easier to deal with (though there was a learning curve to accepting that vulnerability) than posting things on social media, like talking to a camera. I don't understand it and it feels like it doesn't make any sense.

Maybe me talking to the camera and it going directly to an audience is what's stressful? How it doesn't feel detached and feels so close in time to the life I'm living, rather than maybe pictures or something taken the week before?

Anyways, a social media presence is a necessity these days, and in a way, because it feels difficult to open up and do, feels like I should try to pursue it more. This is where I think of what Steven Pressfield calls (big R) Resistance.

The hardest part about writing eventually became not the writing. Yes, the writing was very hard and filled with a swirling concoction of "this is really good" and "this sucks" but the hardest part eventually became sitting down to write. When you write a book, and show up every day for years on the same project, you have no perspective on the words you're putting to paper until you send it off to beta readers. And the time from when you start writing to when that happens, you've shown up for thousands of hours before anyone else ever reads one thing  (at least this was the case for me). And during all those hours you have no perspective on what you're writing, "Am I assigning words to the right things? To the right emotion? Is the emotion I'm writing about worth writing about? Was this a good sentence? Was this a good paragraph? Will anyone understand what I'm trying to say? Does it even matter?"

So, sitting down to write is difficult. I used to think, "I have to sit down to write for 5 hours today so I'll run errands, clean the house, and get everything done so that I'm able to focus on the writing". But by the time I'm done with all that, I don't have enough time and I'm tired.

Then you start over the next day, but you're "not feeling it" you're waiting for the creative muse to show up and for something beautifully written to pour out of you like it did a couple of times last month (the muse being a word to name that creative force/inspiration).

The musician and I talked about this phenomenon, where a stream of consciousness ends in a song or in a beautifully written piece. But as great as those moments are, they can actually hinder us.

They hinder us because we want to wait and summon that moment of clarity in creating something. So instead of showing up day after day, we wait around for the muse to show up fueling our internal Resistance. We make up unlimited excuses to not show up and this is a very convincing one. When in reality, showing up every day brings out the muse.

The number of days that I wrote and didn't have that muse is so incredibly numerous. But what happens, by writing or doing the action that you hope it shows up in, brings it out. Too numerous to count, had I not written, I wouldn't have gotten that stream of consciousness. In other words, had I waited for that creative force to show up, it would have never shown up.

These are some of the things creators have to battle, and in my case, over multiple years before I sent my brainchild to beta readers to get chopped up and spit out, and go through and rework it. And do that multiple times. But you finally get some perspective on the thoughts that have been rolling around your head for the last 2 years... then you get back to work, or crumble in the Resistance to keep showing up. "Will it ever be good? Will I ever be satisfied with this?"

Anyways, creating is hard... we fight an internal battle of Resistance that eats away at us. Then once you create, you have to battle Resistance to put it into the world.

Resistance can be used to orient yourself toward the things you should spend more time on, to the things you should pursue. That thing you've been putting off or the post you don't want to post the most can be a helpful guide to orient yourself toward what you probably should spend more time on than others.
I struggle with a lot of things in this space but I'm still showing up every day to create them. I've created triggers, routines, and external requirements to force this upon myself and I'm grateful.

What things do you feel the most internal Resistance on in your life? What are the hardest things to find time for even though you want to do them? What's preventing you from doing it? What's the worst case scenario? (You fail? At least you'll die knowing you tried.)

Hang out with your Resistance a bit. What are you missing?

See you in two weeks.
'til our last breath,

James Kiesewetter

Click here for more information on James’ book Smile Your Last Breath Away
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War of Art . Creating something is difficult.

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