Luctor et Emergo

Trust the soup of your creativity.

I wasn’t sure how to start my last post of 2013 until one evening when I was watching a replay of game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs from 2004. The Calgary Flames were up on the Tampa Bay Lightning three games to two. My family had the luck and forethought to purchase four tickets before the 2004 playoffs began. I just knew we were going to win the Stanley Cup. Seeing the Lightning win game seven and the ensuing celebration with the traditional raising of the cup over the victors’ heads is something I will never forget. How did I know they were going to win?

Throughout the year I watched as the team jelled. I watched as players gave their last ounce of strength despite pain, exhaustion, injury, and the prevailing notion that a team from Florida could never win a Stanley Cup. I watched, rapt with admiration, as what started as a struggle emerged as a victory. Luctor et emergo.

What the Lightning did back in 2004 is not so different from the struggles writers face every day. Our struggles are mostly private, the challenge of what we attempt to do unappreciated by non-writers. We face a bushel of barriers. The most evil barrier of all, Resistance, lurks in places where we least expect it.

The idea of Resistance is not new. Many philosophers and business writers have published works on how to kick Resistance in the butt. I like to read marketing books, and I have recently come across two books that helped me to identify the Resistance in my life. One of the most helpful books I have read that deals with the concept of Resistance is Do The Work by Steven Pressfield.

How does Pressfield define Resistance? It is an invisible force that fights your ability to complete a project. The more important the project, the closer you are to your goal, the harder Resistance will fight you. It will try to make your life miserable and throw a wrench into your schedule. You can feel it as it fights for control.

Pressfield defines Resistance as fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego and narcissism, perfectionism, etc. He believes that there are two other forces determined to stop us from finishing our projects, rational thought and, interestingly, our friends and family.

I read Do The Work immediately after completing Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth, a philosophical approach to self-discovery. What is fascinating is that the concept of the ego is central to both of these books, but approached differently. Tolle believes that identifying and evaluating the role of the ego in our creative tendencies and social responses can help us grow as a person and achieve our goals through a more harmonious mindset. One must know when a response is coming from a part of ourselves that seeks to control us by causing drama or other distractions that will drain our energy away from our higher goals. The ego wants to be fed. We must become aware of its attempts to raid the refrigerator of our creative juices.

Pressfield identifies the ego partly as rational thought. Is it practical to want to be a writer, artist, musician? We all know it isn’t. There are hundreds of reasons why we will have difficulty succeeding. This is one time in our lives when we must ignore rational thought and practicality. We must be stubborn in our pursuit of our dreams. We must welcome the ideas as they come to us, let them flow freely, and stir them around in a big pot as they simmer into a savory soup. We must “trust the soup”.

Pressfield makes an insightful point on why friends and family might not be aligned with your goal. Our friends and family love us the way we are. They have invested time in their relationship with us. They want us to stay the same. Deep down inside they may be frightened that if we become a success in our new career we will change. Therefore, without malice and perhaps unconsciously, they attempt to thwart our efforts. How we deal with this is critical. Telling your loved ones that you will still be there for them can help.

There are, sadly, those who you may realize do not want to see you succeed. This has happened to me and it is sobering. Naively, I believed that everyone would be happy for my small successes and would want to help me as I had helped them with their projects. Dwelling on the negativity of this realization is another way the ego seeks to control us. Once you have verified that this is the situation, you must act in your own interest. I had to remove those few friendships from my life and so must you.

As 2013 comes to an end I am closer to achieving what was once a half-baked dream. There are many people who have offered me their support and expertise, their kind words, and their friendship. I am thankful for the minions of IU, and for Stephen Hise and his creative partner Kat Brooks.

When you are writing your New Year’s resolutions I hope you will add these two books to your list. I encourage you to look at the people you interact with on a daily basis. Build your network with care and be picky with whom you share your goals. As Steven Pressfield says, being “stupid” is often the best way to succeed. Otherwise, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, and Charles Lindbergh would never have attempted what they did. There was every reason to fail, just as the Lightning were expected to in 2004. As a good friend told me once, success is not always linear. I wish you a healthy and successful 2014.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “Luctor et Emergo”

  1. Terrific post, LA. I read A New Earth a few years back, but I haven’t read Do the Work. I’ll have to take a peak–especially since I’m creating all sorts of barriers to finishing my latest WIP 🙂

    “Resistance is futile!” Bwahahaha.

  2. Great post, Lois, and, oh so, true in regard to those friends and family who have a certain picture of you; their picture that they think is you. One of the reasons I moved to Tasmania, and funnily enough that was in 2004.

    1. TD you are always ahead of the curve. 🙂
      We need to re-educate our loved ones to accept that we are serious in the pursuit of our goals. I imagine that living in Tasmania has allowed you the freedom to focus on your writing. I am happy you had the opportunity to do what was right for you. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lynne
      The Tolle book is very spiritual. It took me a while to read it. The Pressfield book is a quick read, and I have picked it up again. Lots of good tips in it. I hope they inspire you in 2014. 🙂

  3. Great post Lois! I’ve learned it’s easier to just trundle along without telling friends and family too much about what I’m doing [as a writer]. If they all loved the same kind of books that I love then things might be different, but I know they don’t so the chance of them liking what I write is slim from the word go. Sometimes, being quietly stubborn is the only way to go. 🙂

    1. Being stubborn is so important. Personally, telling my friends and family that I was writing the first book made me focus on finishing it. It was a verbal commitment and I like to do what I say I’m going to do. 🙂
      You need to do what works for you. The Pressfield book may give you some ideas and push you along with your writing goals. It helped me to get the third manuscript completed. Good luck with your projects.

  4. Great post, Lois. I have just been reading The War of Art by Pressfield. But what struck me most was the sentence ‘there are those who do not want to see you succeed’. When that someone is a parent the scars never go away. It’s something I fight every day. And it’s the friends I have made via my writing that have helped me fight it. I will never be able to express my gratitude for that. And you are one of them.

  5. Thank you, Yvonne.
    We can’t pick our parents but we can pick our friends. I am honored to have you as a friend and fellow contributing author at IU. We are in this together. 🙂
    Good luck with the new book.

  6. Excellent. Pressfield is a force of nature. Do the Work is a great short read packed with sometimes uncomfortable insight. I have his The War of Art on my next read list. And, as most probably already know, Bagger Vance is one of his other works. Thanks. All the best.

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