Training = Self-training
We were talking last week about the writer or artist’s need for training.
You and I are no different from athletes or warriors. We do what we do in the face of an opposing force.
Call it Resistance, call it self-sabotage, call it demons of self-destruction. This force is as real as a headwind or a contrary current is to a triathlete or an armed foe on the battlefield is to a soldier.
The athlete or the soldier has an advantage over you and me, however. They can work with a coach. They have a sergeant or a lieutenant to hold their feet to the fire. They can literally be TRAINED by a professional. Some pro athletes have entire retinues of coaches and training professionals.
You and I are alone.
We can’t train. We have to self-train.
I break it down into three areas in my own work.
And I add another:
Self-preparation, meaning my interior rehearsals for various emergencies.
What form does this self-training take?
It’s talk. Self-talk. It’s interior conversations between me and myself.
An example: I’m in a situation right now where, for reasons I can’t talk about, I’m not able to publish stuff I’ve already written. I’ve got two books done and ready to go. But I can’t do anything with them.
Here’s my self-talk addressing this situation (which covers all four of the categories above):
Steve, an external event (just like an ambush in war or a setback in an athletic event) has broken your normal rhythm of production. The temptation now is to slack off. The voice of Resistance in your head will tell you to “take it easy” or “explore new possibilities.” You will feel like, “Hey, I’ve done my bit, let me back off for a minute until we can get back on track with our normal work rhythm.”
In other words, I’m saying to myself what a professional coach or trainer would say to me if I had one.
What you must do now, Steve, is the opposite of what Resistance wants you to do. You must raise your intensity. Pick the next project and plunge in with the same level of concentration and aspiration (or higher) as if there had been no external interruption. Block that out. The enemy now, as always, is Resistance..
Instead of slacking off, even a little, increase your level of exertion. Put your head down and work. Self-reinforce every day. Self-validate every day. Self-motivate every day.
Things now are NOT normal. They are harder. They are an insidious form of emergency. Treat this moment that way.
That’s training. That’s self-training.