Upon Jennifer Fulwiler’s recommendation in One Beautiful Dream, I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He is the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was later turned into a movie. He also wrote Turning Pro, which is on my list of books to read.
The War of Art is about the Resistance we all face when we try to move forward in life. I read it as a writer, but there are plenty of examples for others such as artists and entrepreneurs and even people who attempt to become healthier. Why? Because we all face this thing he calls Resistance, or the force that works against our endeavors.
In my case, I feel it as writer’s block, or boredom when I sit down to write. I see it when I feel like perhaps I should sweep instead of open my laptop, or I remember I have that shiny new Zelda game to play instead of editing. You may feel it when you commit to a diet but encounter an opportunity for ice cream two hours later.
This is one of those books it would be easy to respond with, “Oh yes, I knew that already.” Many of the examples are easy to identify with because we’ve all been there. Yet for some reason, we forget when we encounter Resistance. The book is therefore a good reminder and perhaps even a kick in the pants.
You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art . Black Irish Entertainment LLC. Kindle Edition.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is indeed overstatement, but the idea is right on. We can always find other things to do besides our work when presented with Resistance, if we allow it to win.
I enjoyed the first two sections of the book but found the third part to be odd. I suppose it varies on your worldview and what you think of muses. It is a far more artistic line of thought than I use when approaching my work, but even if I didn’t find it useful, you may.
The book is a short read and very encouraging for those of us pursuing something a little more epic than the daily grind.