Last night I tried, not once, but twice, to write a blog. I couldn’t do it. So I went to bed. Of course, this brought up some fear in me. I wondered if I had, after over 500 blogs, run out of things to say. This morning, while doing my Morning Write, I thought of Star Wars and the phrase “Jedi mind tricks” came to me. Then I realized that the Dark Side of the Force has mind tricks of its own. The Enemy, my Enemy, the one that hates me, has mind tricks of its own. Here are some that I have fought and still fight:
· The feeling that I’m too busy to write
· Allowing distractions
· Rage about political issues or injustices
· Imagining all kinds of drama about things that have never actually happened and probably never will
· The fear that I have nothing more to say
· Fear of any kind
· Fear of loneliness
· Fear that my work is garbage
This then is the battle. This is what I go through, to some degree, every time I write or do anything aligned with my purpose. I don’t fight all of these every time, but I always fight at least one or two of them. Even now, as I’m writing, I’m feeling a vague sense of depression and I have no idea where it’s coming from. At other times I will allow myself to be distracted by the Internet. Sometimes I fight sadness. It’s always something. Steven Pressfield sums it up wonderfully in The War of Art:
The hill is a sonofabitch but what can you do? Put one foot in front of another and keep climbing. The years have taught me one skill: how to be miserable. I know how to shut up and keep humping. This is a great asset because it’s human, the proper role for a mortal. It does not offend the gods, but elicits their intercession.
So I need two things. I need to keep moving in my Purpose and I need God’s intercession. I love writing, but sometimes it’s just hard. It’s hard now and I don’t even know why. I don’t know where this sadness or fear are coming from. I can’t think of any rational reason. Still, it doesn’t matter. I just do my work. Pressfield also says that there is no such thing as a wounded-free warrior. The athlete almost always plays hurt. This is the least romantic part of the work. And, again, it doesn’t matter. The point is to do my work and not become overly preoccupied about how I’m feeling as I’m doing my work. My feelings will pass. And if this is a premonition of some future troubles, they too will pass. I just do my work.
Here is something to remember: the Enemy never, ever, ever, ever lets up. Sometimes its attacks are feeble, like an angry toddler hitting me with his tiny fists. Other times it feels like I’m in the ring with Mike Tyson and I’m getting the beating of my life. It still doesn’t matter. I Keep Going. If the Enemy never gives up, then I can’t either.
Above all the Enemy wants me to stop working. That makes me wonder why it’s attacking me so hard this morning. What is it about today or about this writing that is upsetting and scaring the Enemy so much? I don’t know, but it convinces me that what I’m doing is even more important than I realize. Maybe someone I don’t know needs encouragement. Maybe someone I don’t know is hurting worse than me right now. Maybe I’m someone’s lifeline to hope. Maybe I’m making the world a better place. The Enemy hates these things. So it’s throwing all this evil and pain at me so that I give up. It’s practically yelling in my face, “Stop! You’re done! No one cares about what you do or what you write or about you! Stop! Go play a game or read a comic book! Do anything, anything at all! Just. Stop. Writing.”
The fear I’m feeling may not even be mine. It may be the Enemy’s. It is afraid of me. It is afraid of my work. Most of all it is afraid of God and of the Muse who guide my work. And my desire to quit just makes me want to fight even harder. It just makes me want to Get Started and Keep Going.