Learn to Love the Slog

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
— Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, 2002)

If you’ve ever had an ounce of desire to create something ~ to write, paint, build, teach, sauté, start a business or any of the myriad creative pursuits that lay somewhere deep within all of us, then this is for you.

This is about the creative process and what we need to understand in order to not give up before the magic takes place.

Hands up if you’ve ever started something with great abandon, given it everything you (thought you) had and then after …well, let’s be honest, a pretty short period of time, gave up. Or perhaps it wasn’t such a short time. Maybe you gave it a go for months or even years and then, let it go… just before it could have all come together.

Just so you know, I’ve faffed about for years dabbling in this and that, chasing after more than a few of the brilliant (at the time) shiny ideas that have belly-flopped into my head at 3am. And as much as I’d love to say I’m writing this from “the other side” of I’m not quite sure what, I have started to have breakthroughs. For the first time in pursuing my writing seriously, I’m starting to make headway. I’ve started to find my flow, my momentum and to understand some of the basics that I just didn’t want to face before now.

The key is to start

Obvious? Yep, I know. But I also know that if you’re reading this you can relate to me hoping that the more time I spent daydreaming about stuff, the more it would… just somehow happen. Yes by osmosis! Or the Universe deciding to take pity on me and deliver one of my sparkly ideas, complete and tied up prettily to my door. Ha!

The Universe helps those bold enough to start, stay consistent and not give up

Motivation is not something that comes while we’re sitting around waiting for it. It’s in the doing that motivation comes and grows. Motivation comes in the momentum of doing something and then comes the inspiration. This means it takes true scheduled time doing “something” on a consistent basis to ever become successful at that thing.

You cannot force it

The truth of the creative process is that it cannot be forced. Even mildly good work takes time. It will often feel like it's on its own schedule and will only come together when it's good and ready. But! When we consistently show up, do the very best we can, slog it out and DO the work, it does come.

TRUST and stick with it

No matter how much it feels like you’re slogging it out and that you’re getting nowhere, stay open, receptive and TRUST that this is part of the creative process. It’s when you learn to enjoy the uncomfortable-ness of the slog and stick with it that your muse might just take note of your dedication and allow you the touch of her magic.

What ever you do, do NOT buy into what your evil twin will try to convince yourself of - that if you were really good at what you do, it would all just flow. All easy-peasy, effortless and fast. For us mere mortals it doesn’t just ooze out of our pores. But isn’t that half the fun of the creative process (I say with that half-crazed glint in my eye)? If it’s worth it to you, you will bleed, struggle and sweat for it.

Our biggest regrets come when we quit on ourselves, or our projects, midway because the slog gets too uncomfortable. But the longer we stick with something the more we refine our art and pick up more skill – it’s in the duration of doing something that mastery becomes possible. When we focus on the feeling of growth, instead of the hard details we begin to feel a magical connection to what it is we’re working on. When we keep showing up with an open heart and faith that what we are doing has a divine reason, we also have the possibility to impact others in unknown ways.

So to anyone in the midst of throwing themselves around their room, banging their heads against the wall or wanting to frisbee their “work” off the tallest building. Embrace the slog and keep going. Honour the struggle. Keep showing up because you never know the ripple effect you and your work might have.

Thank you Steven Pressfield and Marie Forleo for all the inspiration you have given me about not giving up and sticking with the creative process.