A Practice and Resistance
Why do we have a practice at all?
I have my own reasons, some of which definitely go deep into the airy-fairy, but the most obvious and the most practical is this:
We have a practice in order to confront and overcome Resistance.
A practice by definition defeats Resistance because it produces work every day with total focus and dedication. And a practice is lifelong, so we know we’ll never quit.
One could say that a practice is “habit.” But in truth a practice goes way beyond that. A practice enlists habit. It implies habit (if we have a practice, we do it every day, i.e. it can be called a habit) but it is habit only in the sense that giving birth is exercise.
Likewise, if we said the purpose of a practice is to overcome Resistance, we would be vastly understating the depth and effect of having a practice.
Overcoming Resistance is a side-benefit of having a practice.
For myself, I was years into the act of having a practice before I even thought about its efficacy as a strategy to overcome my own Resistance. Resistance was (and is) a given for me. It wakes up with me. I know I will have to face it every day, and I know it will never diminish or relent or go away.
But I have a practice. That’s all I need to know. I know at a certain time of day I will go into a certain room. I will enter with a very specific mindset, i.e. “Leave your problems (and your ego) outside.” And I will engage in a very specific (though infinitely varied in the moment) enterprise.
I have left Resistance outside as well. It is not allowed into the space where my writing practice takes place.
In an earlier post we cited my friend and mentor Paul Rink’s admonishment to me immediately after I’d finished a manuscript: “Good for you, start the next one today.” What Paul meant, though he didn’t express it in these terms, was:
“You have a practice now, Steve. A practice is engaged in every day. Don’t tell me you’re tired or you want to take a victory lap or you don’t have any idea what your next project will be. None of that matters. You have a practice now. Do it.”