Gordon McGregor has been reading some interesting books. I follow his reading list somewhat surreptitiously. The other day he wrote a short post about resistance. After following the link to the book, The War of Art, I decided to pick up a copy. Actually, I asked my wife to pick up a copy for me as a birthday present. What can I say, I’m a cheap date.
Also, worthy of a read or two, is Anita’s post about SoFoBoMo 2009 and the things that she fast last year and this year. It’s certainly worth the read.
The War of Art is a pretty small book, 165 pages, consisting of many very small essays about resistance and procrastination. In my opinion, others have done it much better, but this book is decent. My two favorite books about creativity are:
Mind you, all three books talk about work. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about being a professional. A professional is not necessarily someone who does his or her art for pay, but one who faces their fear, shows up, and does the job every day. A professional is one who is there 7 days a week practicing their craft with no expectation of the outcome. An amateur is the weekend warrior. The professional is the one who sets aside some amount of time each day to practice the craft. Steven King mentions, in his book, that this is how he writes. That time is inviolable. He must park his butt in that chair for so many hours per day and do the work, even if it is pure crap. The work must be done.
The professional knows that the Muse shows up only when she is working. The professional knows about Resistance (Notice the capital R) and, therefore, excepts no excuses. No matter how they feel. No matter how badly the day went. No matter what, the work must be done. If one procrastinates today, it’s twice as likely that one will do the same thing tomorrow, etc. Soon, weeks, months, years have passed.
Oh, how many times have I seen this in my own work. As much as I love photography, I can distract myself from the work of it. Sometime last year, probably 8 – 10 months ago, I decided that I was going to learn about lighting. I had it planned. I was going to start with one light, then two, then three. I purchased a couple of stands, shoot-through umbrellas, and Nikon SB600 units. I took them out the first day, played with them a bit, then put them back into the boxes. As a matter of fact, one of the SB600 remains unopened. Still factory packed.
Mind you, I could give you a host of excuses and tell you that I lost my job, had to go to Charleston, family members got sick, my dog pooped on the carpet, Tony had too many games, etc. Even though this might garner a bit of sympathy from you, I’d be standing right and the mirror and lying to myself. For certainly, I could look back and ask myself: How many episodes of House did you watch during that time? How many fiction books did you read? Are you trying to tell yourself that your day was so busy that you didn’t have an hour to play with the lights? For those of you who may decide not to participate in this year’s SoFoBoMo because of time constraints, ask yourself, honestly, is that true? Are you really so busy as all that? OR are you letting the fear win? Are you not showing up because it is more comfortable that way? If you don’t try, you cannot fail! Well, you cannot overcome, either.
This is not to say that I should have no leisure activities and that I should be productive 100% of the time, but it is to say that this thing, photography, that I enjoy so much, should be at the top of my list of things to do even when I’m feeling highly resistant!
Back to the light. I love subtly lit scenes, especially portraits. There’s something appealing to them. I wanted to learn how to light like that. Yesterday, I dragged out one umbrella, stand, and flash unit. I created a makeshift studio, if you will, in my living room, and started taking pictures. I took about 110 photos, of which I deleted about 105. Of the remaining 5, I found one that I really liked. It captured the type of lighting that I dreamed of. That’s success. I didn’t even think that I would be able to pull it off, but, somehow, I did.
The light setup is still there. I’m staring at it from the couch. it’s time to put in more work right now. Believe it or not, even after writing about this, the resistance is still there telling me that I can do it later. Resistance does not like to be faced, at all. It prefers to bask in the imagined light of ‘tomorrow’, for today, we need to relax.
OK. Enough distractions, time to get to work!