I’ve finally just started reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s one of those books that you know is going to inspire you because you’ve heard it mentioned in so many different places but you put it off until you’re ready. I now know, thanks to reading the first section, that this is just an example of Resistance.
The War of Art discusses the obstacles that get in the way of all types of artist, but mainly from a writers perspective, and what you can do about them. There are three sections to the book and I will write a post on each one this week because I know I will devour the book probably by the end of today. I’ve even highlighted passages that are particularly poignant and I haven’t done this since I was at school. So, Resistance is the enemy, what’s all that about?
Resistance prevents you from getting on and doing your work. It comes in all shapes and sizes but there are some attributes that you need to be aware of. It’s invisible; it’s internal, it’s universal; it’s relentless; it’s insidious; it does whatever is needed to stop you creating.
There are some great quotes in the book that I’d like to share. On Resistance and Freedom – “The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.”
On Resistance and Self-Doubt – “If you find yourself asking yourself, am I really a writer? Chance are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
On Resistance and being a star – “The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”
He also criticises the true benefit of support from friends and family, and healing, by claiming that all these things do is prevent you from just simply getting on with your work. Workshops and courses are also placed into this category.
I’m finding it so refreshing to read these pearls of wisdom by someone that has cut the mustard already and is stating exactly what we all know ourselves deep down. In my other work as a coach I constantly tell people to just get on with it, nothing was ever achieved by standing still and talking about it. As an artist of any description it is so easy to do something else that distracts you.
Creating anything is a war and we must be prepared to fight seriously to win. Don’t play games with it, if you’re going to be a writer then man up, get your head down, and take the hill. Once you’ve done that move on to the next one, soldier.
Have any of you guys ever read this book and, if so, what did you think of it?