Friday, September 21, 2007

More on Resistance

Leigh left an interesting comment to my first post on resistance:

"I move that we classify analysis in a totally different category from creativity. Let's just classify it as "work" and be done with it. I'd also put things like warping the loom in that category, especially heddle threading and treadle tie-up. Then we can just consider these things necessary evils and not obstacles in the creative process. Do I hear a second on this? Show of hands?"

The problem of resistance does not necessarily go away with a reclassification of the problem. Giving the activity that is being resisted another name or label will not necessarily make it easier to do. Besides, "creativity" is also work! Creativity requires the doing of things and the doing of things is work, whether mental or physical. And if there is something a person simply will not or cannot do because he is so resistant to doing it, it doesn't matter whether it is a mental or a physical (or a creative) action. It doesn't matter whether it is a tedious task or a wonderful activity.

In addition, resistance resists the usual efforts of pushing through that work, We may hate threading the loom, or winding a warp, but we can use our will power to push through those feelings and get on with the activity. Resistance, however, is much more subtle, much more powerful, and can make itself felt even with activities we love to do or really want to do.

For me resistance seems to come primarily from a task or activity being too daunting. Organizing one's bedroom, for example. The trick, for me, is to break it up into small parts. But that still will not necessarily overcome the resistance. I have to find a really small place to begin, something that will not take much in the way of either time or energy. Something so easy and short that to do it becomes a no brainer. Sometimes I have had to add another step. I have needed to make a date with myself. For example, after I get dressed on Wednesday morning I will go through my lipsticks.

When I decided to learn how to oil paint many years ago, I had purchased all my supplies and I was very eager to begin. But I didn't. And I didn't. And I didn't. Resistance had reared its ugly head. I read about picking out a tiny beginning task and making a date with yourself and I decided to try that. On a certain day and on a certain time I said I would get out the tubes of paint I would need. Nothing else. I would then be free to go ahead to do something else and just leave those tubes of paint there. The date came and I didn't want to do it, but I did it anyway. Two or three hours later I was still painting..............

In the case of the oil painting, fear probably played into the resistance. But the trick worked. And for a period of time I had to use it whenever I wanted to do another session. Finally I just painted.

In the case of the draft analysis, inexperience and ignorance probably played into that. I knew how to read drafts, but reading them just never really made sense to me. I knew theoretically what was happening, but somehow I could not carry it over to the weaving. I resisted weaving software for a long time because I knew that would short-circuit my ability to understand drafts. I thought that doing them manually would help. What I think I may really have needed to do was to work on my imagination! But the ability to imagine also comes with experience.

Perhaps what has happened is that I am now ready. Before I was not; now I am.


Leigh said...

Very insightful, Peg. I definitely agreed with you about taking it one small step at a time. I am realizing that I often tend to simply procrastinate simply because I would prefer to be doing something else. Something less workful, which makes me equate procrastination more with laziness. However, is procrastination the same as resistance? Or a form of it? I'm not sure. You've pointed this out before, but I must say that blogging really helps. I appreciate how it obligates me to the completion of a project.

Bonnie said...

Peg, I can't believe I am just tuning into your blog! Your post sounded like you wove together "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield and "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston (two mightly terrific books). Thanks! I know what I will be reading this weekend.

Dorothy said...

Very interested in reading about your oil painting, how long you waited before starting, then you got going and didn't stop. I've had that experience a few times. I wonder if something is arranging itself in my subconscious before I'm ready to start a new thing?

We are only normally aware of what the conscious mind does, but the back-of-the-mind is my best creative ideas seem to emerge from.

I don't normally find it useful to push past that point of resistance, unless in the same way you did with the painting: make a date. Set a future time-place, wait till it arrives, then get going.

I find a lot of creative ideas pop up when I've stopped looking for them, when I'm doing one of those steady methodical tasks, like tying up treadles, threading heddles, or often enough, washing the dishes! So, for me, Leigh's "work" time is my time to let my mind wander off, and to see what it finds. I know lots of people don't like washing dishes, for me it's a useful time to just let my mind do it's own thing, things get resolved, I get relaxed, ideas happen.