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Facing a creative block? How to "Turn Pro" and beat resistance.

by Tom Connell, Davines Hair Art Director

The difference between the amateur and the professional artist is that the first one will give up in front of difficulties. But it’s what you're able to achieve also on your bad days which makes you win your creative battles.

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There is a secret that professionals know that amateurs don’t, and the secret is this:  it isn’t the work which is hard. What’s hard is sitting down to work. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.

Steven Pressfield - The War of Art

This quote is by Steven Pressfield, the author behind the most beneficial book I have ever read. The War Of Art explores and explodes the myths and mysticism behind the process of taking on your true calling, shining a light of the force which prevents us from achieving the things we dream about most. The piece of work we wish we had the nerve to create, the change of job we wish we had the confidence to go for, Pressfield personifies this force as Resistance with a capital R

THE WORK YOU MUST DO TO BE TRULY SATISFIED


Personally I face resistance each time I sit to create a new piece of work,(this article included) the thing to understand with resistance is that is at its most powerful when the work you are trying to create means the most to you. If the resistance you’re facing when attempting to focus on a task is great, that’s a good thing as it means that’s the work you are meant to do, it’s the work you were put here to do, and it’s the work you must do to be truly happy. This resistance can come in many forms, particularly fear and self-doubt, a quote from the book sums this up best.

HOW TO "TURN PRO" AND FIGHT RESISTANCE


In the book, the author explains that the way to defeat this invisible force is to “Turn Pro” turning pro means you have made a decision, a decision that has taken back control and committed you to showing up every day and putting in the work. If you’re at your at your desk, in your studio or wherever you need to be to create your art, and you consistently show up each morning and put in the hours regardless of the result, the resistance begins to diminish and your creativity begins to grow. 


In hairdressing the opportunity for resistance to take hold is everywhere, especially among those of us who head up onto stages or create photographic work. To do these high-pressure things we must have a deep desire to share the ideas we feel we have in our heads and heart, but as we know by know if the work means something to us resistance will appear. I have lost count of the number of people I have seen push projects down the road or arrive on stage unprepared because the feeling of resistance was too great for them to properly prepare.   

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PREPARE TO SUFFER FRUSTRATION, WITHOUT LOSING ENTHUSIASM


They key to beating it is to demystify it. Every hairdresser, no matter how famous or experienced, feels resistance when they embark on a creative project, most of the work they produce will end up in the trash and 99% of them will go through long periods of hating their work. The difference between them and the people whose projects never get completed isn’t some magical creative secret which only they know the answer. The difference is they face resistance head on when it appears, they are willing to grind and suffer long periods of frustration without loss of enthusiasm. If you can do that, then you will fulfil your potential and produce the work you were put here to create.

STAY CONSISTENT AND ALWAYS "BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE" FOR YOU


Overcoming resistance is a lifelong battle and one which begins again each morning. Sometimes you’ll feel like you are wading through mud, every idea difficult to develop and seemingly unimaginative when you finish it. At this point it’s vital to remain consistent.The difference between the amateur and the professional is that the amateur will give up at this first point of resistance. If you are fortunate enough to be in the position of performing a job which you love, you can’t afford to stop working when you feel exhausted of inspiration, you must keep working and trust that the ideas come back around if you pay your dues and put in the work. 


It’s your responsibility to put yourself in situations and environments where you will be exposed to culture which will provide that inspiration further down the road. It’s what you achieve on your bad days which makes the difference. The War Of Art changed my outlook and approach to my life and work, it made them one and the same. I hope it does for you too.


Tom Connell


 If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a creative? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.

Steven Pressfield - The War of Art

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