By Leo Babauta

The creation habit is theoretically easy: you want to write, sketch, play music, so you should be able to sit down and just do it. Then why is it such a difficult habit for many people to create?

Because we get in our own way. We face resistance to what we really want to do, and it’s so much easier to do what’s comfortable, what we’re better at. We turn to email, online distractions, cleaning the kitchen, anything else.

So where does this resistance come from? What the hell is wrong with us?

The answer lies in the idea of a Mind Movie — the fantasy that plays out in our minds of how we should be, how our lives should be. We fantasize about:

These fantasies play out in our heads like a film, which I call the Mind Movie. None of the fantasies are true. We’re not going to be as disciplined as we fantasize. It’s great to be a creator, but it’s not as peaceful and lovely as it sounds — it’s messy and hard. Creating this habit is as difficult as creating the exercise habit, if not harder.

And so we have a Mind Movie, but it’s getting in our way. What would happen if we put aside the movie and focused on the reality?

Here’s what we could do instead: pause and notice the reality of this creative habit, trying to see it as it is. Be curious about what it’s like. See that there is some difficulty there, some messiness, some discomfort. Stay with the discomfort instead of running from it. Work on creating in the midst of uncertainty, fear, discomfort, difficulty. Smile.

This is accepting the uncomfortable, difficult reality of the creative habit, and exploring it with curiosity. It’s learning to be OK with discomfort. It’s like the backbreaking physical labor you’ve done in the past — it’s hard work, but it’s OK to exert yourself to exhaustion, it’s not horrible to be uncomfortable and still work. We can not only survive but thrive in discomfort.

That’s the practice, and it’s worth it.