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Creative Ideas, Creative Expressions, Creative Resistance

chameleon by Mike

“Creative resistance is essentially anything and everything that prevents us from starting, developing or completing our creative projects.” Julia McCutchen

As a creative person, you have a passion to use creative thinking and explore creative ideas, to express yourself through some form of creative work in the arts, or science, business, cooking – any number of engaging ways to use your talents and passions.

So what might stand in our way?

In an interview about her perspectives on our experiences when using the Internet, Pamela Rutledge noted “Most of what we feel comes to us from sensory input from unconscious portions of the brain—our instinctual lizard brain or our emotional mammalian brain.”

She says that while the neocortex or conscious brain “excels as an interpreter and planner” at the lizard level, we don’t distinguish readily between real and virtual in our visceral response.”

“Consequently, what we experience online that triggers and satisfies basic human needs, such as connection, affiliation, group membership, and social validation—may be technically ‘virtual’ but they are interpreted as meaningful experience by the lizard brain.”

From Does the Internet Make You Happy? Thoughts from SxSW by Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., Psychology Today Mar 18, 2011.

What does this have to do with creative expression?

Seth GodinIn his Success Magazine post “Ways to Reinvent Yourself,” Seth Godin notes that making a creative project risks other people not liking it, ignoring it, even laughing at it – and the cringe we may feel about getting those reactions (or even anticipating them) is a sign of the reptilian part of our system.

The Internet, especially social platforms, can provide virtual encouragement from others for our work – or active, even very nasty, discouragement.

Godin notes, “The lizard brain, that prehistoric brain stem that all of us must contend with, doesn’t like being laughed at.

“It’s the part of our brain that worries about safety and dishes out anger. Being laughed at is the lizard brain’s worst nightmare. And so it shuts down our art.”

The Resistance

Godin continues, “Author Steven Pressfield calls this shutdown ‘the Resistance.’ The Resistance is the little voice in your head that keeps your head down and encourages you to follow instructions.

“The Resistance lives in fear and doesn’t hesitate to shut us down at the first sign of possible derision or the first hint that we might be ostracized.”

Steven Pressfield is author of books including The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

Seth Godin is an author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. One of his books is We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal.

Starting a new project

His book Poke the Box is, Godin says, “a manifesto about starting (and art). In a post on his blog, in answer to a reader’s questions, he writes about starting a new project:

“Starting is fun, of course, because it’s fresh, it might work, it breaks the rhythm, it is filled with possibility. The starting overcomes what Steve Pressfield calls the Resistance, the heckler, the lizard brain, the primeval desire to hide and find safety.

“Neophilia and our desire for shiny objects is enough to at least temporarily get us going. Alas, there’s another word for this desire to start but not finish: daydreaming. The real work comes after the novelty wears off.”

[But forms of daydreaming can also stimulate creative thinking – see my post More Daydreaming, More Creativity.]

Creative Resistance - from Facebook - Julia McCutchen
Creative Resistance and Conscious Writing

This image and the following quotes come from a Facebook post by author Julia McCutchen.

She writes: “We need to understand that we all experience resistance to doing our creative work to one degree or another.

“Even when we’ve many years of experience and a track record of success, there remains an undercurrent that can stop us in our tracks unless we remain alert.”

McCutchen refers to the book Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance and says the author Rosanne Bane “draws on brain science to explain how and why writers invariably feel resistance, even if it doesn’t turn into full-blown writer’s block.

“Bane explains, ‘Resistance is not about laziness, lack of willpower, or the failure of intellect and imagination. It’s about neurology and psychology.’

“Instead of having a brain, we actually have a brain system made up of separate yet integrated areas that collaborate to make consciousness possible.

“However, sometimes different parts of the brain compete with each other. When we feel that we’ve ‘two minds’ vying for supremacy in relation to whether or not we show up to write, we’re actually right!”

She adds that this “Creative resistance is essentially anything and everything that prevents us from starting, developing or completing our creative projects.

“It is a canny, shapeshifting creature that can appear unexpectedly at any time before, during and after our writing experience.”

The above is from her book Conscious Writing: Discover Your True Voice Through Mindfulness and More.

She is a speaker at the Hay House World Summit May 7 – May 26, 2016.

video: The Power of Alignment for Conscious Writers

Julia McCutchen is an author, intuitive mentor and founder and creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW).

Her site profile notes she “teaches a holistic approach to all kinds of writing which combines the inner journey of self-realization (conscious) with the practical steps required for authentic self-expression (creativity).

“She is dedicated to opening the way for people to wake up to the truth of who they are, and her speciality is to bring deep intuitive insight to guide people to discover their true voice and to express themselves consciously and creatively in the world.”

Visit her site to learn about her programs.


Creative Ideas, Creative Expressions, Creative Resistance

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2016). Creative Ideas, Creative Expressions, Creative Resistance. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Apr 2016
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