Despite their love for the art form, many comics creators are stymied by procrastination when it comes to starting and finishing their stories, and find every excuse to delay. This is commonplace behaviour amongst many creatives. However, to understand why you procrastinate you need to understand what is at the base of the matter—indeed, it is actually more about emotional resistance than anything else.
Procrastination is defined as “the act or habit of putting things off till later” and “repeated delay or postponement”. Resistance, however, is a slightly different phenomenon. I actually define it as a “internal feeling-based response that acts as a block to action or change, or opposes something”. Therefore, procrastination is the “act of not acting” whereas emotional resistance is more like an “internal force that prevents forward motion”.
I am not immune either. For me, emotional resistance manifests as a heavy sludgy feeling around the chest area as if I am about to plough through thick mud. I usually experience emotional resistance as I am about to start a new project or am confronted with something that will take me out of my comfort zone. I’ve found that the best solution is to acknowledge resistance front on. I do not try to hide from it, I do not turn my back on it, I do not try to get around it, and I do not fight it. I actually name it.
What does this mean? Well, there are differences in feeling energy depending on where the emotional resistance originates from in your inner self. I endow each variation of resistance with its rightful name. For example, it can be “laziness”, “tiredness”, “mind space switch” [from one project to another]; or the fear-based “self doubt”. Once named, that variant of resistance loses much of its potency, and that is when I take action and start working on the very thing I was resisting. What I invariably discover is that instead of struggling through it, the mud metaphorically drops from chest height to maybe knee height and I can wade through it until I eventually walk out free.
I also allow for it. Every time I start a new project I will usually go through one to five working days of resistance (average three days) before I shed it and move fully into the action and find my discipline and momentum. Being aware of this idiosyncrasy about myself, I factor in a three-day resistance time frame into my creative work schedule. It’s not good or bad; it just is and I accept it now as part of my personality.
If you’re experiencing similar dynamics of resistance and you’re contemplating moving away from a challenge rather than stepping into it, the question you need to ask yourself is: “Will I grow and improve as a person and as a comics creator if I complete this task / perform this deed / take this action / break this pattern / confront this situation?”
If the answer is “yes” then here are some keys to moving through emotional resistance:
There is another variation on resistance, and that is the intuition based response, which I call “intuitive resistance”. Your subconscious mind may attempt to communicate to you through a feeling of resistance to say you are not on the right track or that there is an energy leak of some sort. Provided there is no internal sabotage, it may be a feeling-based message to say you are straying off the inner pathway that reflects your true nature and calling.
For example, a few years ago after I made the decision to give up my Clinical Hypnotherapy / PSH Therapy practice in the city to work full time as a freelance writer and editor, but then I thought I could somehow juggle both careers at the same time because I loved them both. I began to set up a new home office in a new location that would be conducive to both writing and seeing clients. However, when it came time for me to do all the marketing and to write the promotional material for the therapy side of things, I encountered that heavy sludgy feeling in my chest. This time the internal resistance was so strong I ended up procrastinating for weeks. In the end I accepted what my intuition was attempting to communicate to me through this particular form of resistance—I was to say goodbye to therapy altogether and to concentrate wholly and solely on my publishing career. I needed full focus and make a commitment to do one or the other, and the timing was right and my true self was now ready to take a huge leap of faith and embrace professional writing full time. As soon as I came to that realisation, the feeling of resistance evaporated inside of me to be replaced by a feeling of relief, excitement of new prospects and contentment of being on track.
As mentioned previously, it is those deep feelings that signal and provide us with direction in life.
An airplane can overcome the resistance of the air and go in the desired direction, but an ordinary balloon just drifts haphazardly. You need to decide whether you are the airplane or the balloon!
© Julie Ditrich, 2009-2014
This is an expanded version of an article that originally appeared on the Black Mermaid Productions Blog.