Resisting Resistance


A FaceBook friend was intrigued by the 20 Minute Technique, but asked me how to get herself to even turn on the timer, how to move past the “gah, I just don’t have it in me today!” thought that seems to happen every day.

Excellent question.

It’s helpful to recognize that feeling as resistance and not the truth. It’s also important to remember that everyone experiences it, even the most prolific artist you know.

Resistance is always very persuasive. It wears a lot of disguises and speaks in different voices as it scrambles to maintain the status quo and keep everything safe by stopping you from doing something hard or taking a risk.

It’s trying to protect you from feeling the “ick”. Which is really damned nice of it, in a way, except that it also prevents you from doing what you want, being who you really are, and spreading your wings.

The price of that safety is too high.

The 20 Minute Technique is one way to push through the resistance. One way to deal with the “ick”.

But if 20 minutes feels insurmountable, set the timer for 10 or even 5 minutes at first. Totally okay!!

More important than “getting something done” is breaking that inertia, interrupting the momentum of “not doing” with even a little bit of doing and working your way up from there.


Because your resistance needs to know that it’s not the only sheriff in town.

Having a tool to move past your resistance changes things. It empowers you. It gives you more of a say about what does or doesn’t happen.

So what will you be working on this week for 20 minutes (or 10 or 5…)?

Remember, nothing is “too small”, everything counts, and we’re in this together.

I’m looking forward to sharing our results on Friday. :-)

Bookmark and Share


  1. Karen says:

    I think you wrote this one for me.

  2. Lisa says:

    Great inspiration! Thanks!

  3. Julie Burns says:

    I am creative every day but struggle with finding me time. This week I will work on getting in walks. Often I say I don’t have time, I need to do this and that. When that mind talk starts I will ignore it!!

  4. lyn says:

    Due to health problems the blah moments seem longer than the creative ones, but your maybe just for 5 minutes hit the right note. I am off to try it even if it is only for 5 minitutes

  5. Christine says:

    I think Resistance has moved into my office and set up a command post. As a self-employed graphic designer, I use a few strategies to deal with it. Sometimes resistance is a great springboard to some other task I’ve been avoiding. “Okay, I don’t have to bind that quilt right now, but if I’m not going to do that, then I’m going to…” The faux relief associated with avoiding resistance will slide me into another resisted project. Another strategy I use is similar to the 20 minute approach…I look for the easiest, smallest step I can take and commit to only that easy step. However, I fall for it every time…once I’m doing, I generally keep doing. Great post Sarah! Now if I could figure out how to apply the 20-minute rule to get me out the door to yoga class!

  6. Laura says:

    Oh, I like that idea of even 5 minutes! Because yes, sometimes it is really hard to get started just a little bit.

  7. Sarah says:

    @Christine–I love that your resistance helps you tackle other things you’re resisting! And I love that tactic of finding the easiest smallest step–so smart! So now you just have to trick yourself into going to yoga–maybe just agree to drive there and you get to go home if you don’t feel like actually yoga-ing it up once you get there?

  8. Carol says:

    I have to tell you how timely this is. I have time now, to create, so what do I do? since it has been so long since I have had time, thus no quilting or painting in years, I want to sit down with just the right idea and all the perfect supplies and GO! didn’t happen, not for a long time. Who knew?

    So, I decided to just sit at my dining room table, my fabric and paints stashes on what were previously nicely arranged attractive shelving and just let what happens happen.

    I allowed myself to ”sew something ugly” or paint something weird; kind of like letting yourself write something bad just to get writing again. Anyway, at the dining room table, just by sitting their with my ”stuff”, things began to happen.

    and it feels WONDERFUL. This 20 min technique is like a reinforcement for me. Thank you. I am letting myself just ‘go with it’ and have been very pleased with my progress, kind of like riding a bike, great to get back in the saddle!!

    carol k

  9. Sarah says:

    @Carol–YES!! This makes me so happy. And how great to give yourself permission to make something bad–it’s the most liberating thing! And it’s great to remember how good it feels to just interact with our favorite supplies and materials. Awesome.

  10. Christine says:

    Carol…”Sewing something ugly” works for me too. Often when I find myself really involved in a project, I notice that it’s when I don’t like how it looks. Doesn’t matter the media…drawing, beading, sewing…if it’s ugly, I’m drawn to make it better. It’s when I start to like it that I know that I’m close to done.

    I have a recent project that was born from the uglies…my dancing lady quilt started as a panel of pieced upholstery samples. The day I made the first panel, I worked with the samples because I didn’t want to “ruin” any of my good fabric. (I wrote about it in length on my blog, I have another friend that knits and she says she is more creative knitting with junk yarn…she has permission to create something ugly, because she already thinks the yarn is ugly. Of course, when she’s done, she may change her mind…:)

  11. [...] Friends By Sarah I can’t tell you how much I’m loving reading the comments (here, here, and here, if you want to take a look) that readers are leaving about the 20 Minute [...]

  12. [...] we all have resistance to doing the new and the [...]

Leave a Reply