Bumps In The Road

song in my head—”Playing Favorites” by The Starting Line

On January 10, 2019, I posted my first essay here at The Campfire, declaring in my head as well as publically that I would post every day (except on Sundays) from then on out. And I've done pretty well with that goal thus far.

Until this week.

I realized today I haven't posted since February 8.

There are many reasons for this (one being the 12-hour shifts I've been working at my day job), many excuses that could be made. But in the end, none of that matters. A few missed days doesn't equal failure. I said I'd write every day. Today is a day. Tomorrow is, too. But yesterday is gone. So why get hung up on it?

Some people are afraid of goals just because not hitting them makes us feel bad. So rather than changing their mindset about goals and outcomes, they never set them at all, never accomplish anything.

So yes, I haven't posted in 5 days. And it's easy, especially for us sensitive and self-doubting artist types, to focus on that. But today I choose to look at the positive—twenty-four essays posted since that day in January. Twenty-four pieces of myself put out into the world. For someone who hasn't blogged or shared his writing in nearly three years, I'd say that's a pretty good improvement.

There will always be bumps in the road. Resistance rears its ugly head to derail us. Sometimes it wins. But that's okay. The life of an artist—and life in general, really—is a marathon, not a sprint. Some days we run. Other days we can't. Either way, we're still in the race. And if we focus too much on the bad days, I've found they have the habit of metastasizing. Of multiplying. Of devouring us whole.

Let the struggles be what they are—a means to grow stronger—and focus on what lies ahead, one foot in front of the other.

—G

A Stoic Symphony

From The Daily Stoic, one of my favorite websites (and books), here are some notes about making progress as a Stoic.

You are making progress if you find yourself...

  • criticizing no one

  • praising no one (I don't entirely agree—a kind word can go a long way; but I understand the idea)

  • blaming no one

  • accusing no one

  • saying nothing about yourself to indicate being someone or knowing something

  • when frustrated or impeded, you blame yourself (*warning: lots of language on link!*)

  • if complimented, you laugh

  • if criticized, you ignore

  • relaxed in motivation

  • banishing harmful desire

  • watching yourself as though you were an enemy plotting an attack

I find that last one very important. As with most artists, I have an amazing capacity to self-sabotage. My harmful desires, my nihilism, my darker fascinations—such things are always at the ready to undo me. Positivity and a growth mindset (traits that don't come naturally to me) are keys to success, while balancing such aspirations must be in harmony with wisdom, a lack of naivety, measured discernment, and love. It's not enough to pretend to be optimistic and positive all the time. I have to embrace my natural Stoicism, my faith, and my five-ness. There's simply no way around the makeup of my brain and my soul. So why fight it?

“I go to sleep content, but my final thought is of Resistance. I will wake up with it tomorrow. Already I am steeling myself.” — Steven Pressfield

Harmony. Harmony is key. Polyphony. Multiple melodies acting in accord. The macro is the whole symphony. The micro is every line, every note. People will only understand the symphony (the thing I’m trying to build and communicate) if each note is properly in place.

So what are the notes of your life? The melodies? How do they weave together? Ask yourself that today.

—G

Some Days

song in my head — “One Foot Before The Other” by Frank Turner

Some days the words come. They flow from mind to fingertip or pen as easily as a river flows to the sea. The Muse is with us and there’s magic in our bones.

Other days the words are hard to come by. They hide in dark shadows just on the edge of our vision; they gang up on us and overwhelm us until we can’t make sense of them. On days like these, we might think we’ll never write again.

The great Steven Pressfield would call this feeling “Resistance.”

In the opening of his masterful creative manifesto, The War of Art, Pressfield says:

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

But are you a real writer or a wannabe?

If you’re a real writer then do the hard part. Sit down to write.

This doesn’t always mean the words will arrive, but it means the intention to write has. Struggling with the work—thinking of it, pressing through it, mulling it over—is the valuable work of a writer, too. It’s not just words on the page. It’s butt in the seat and story in the head. It’s exploring. It’s discovery. It’s wrestling with yourself and the material, battling with the Muse and the forces of Resistance. If you run from it, you’re lost. But if you face it, if your intentional, you’re doing the work.

So are you intentional with your writing time whether the words are there or not? Good. You’re being persistent. And Resistance hates persistence.

—G