The War of Art

The War of Art
By Steven Pressfield

I recently read Steven Pressfield's The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win your Inner Creative Battles.  The message of the book is to combat resistance, which comes in a multitude of forms and live the destiny that Pressfield believes is possible for all people.

The book touches on many themes:

The notion of the Unlived Life and how much that costs us as a society and individuals. How much we believe we can't do what we want and yet how much not doing what we want or living our dreams costs us in the long run.

I had thought that the resistance section would revolve around procrastination. But it is so much broader. Resistance includes all of the fears I experience associated with potentially quitting my job or disappointing my bosses, telling people that I write, or prioritizing my writing first.

Pressfield emphasizes that part of the answer is accepting that these fears don't matter if what we want to do, our unlived life, is what we really want to do.  A second part of the answer is turning pro, and treating our creative ventures as seriously as we would treat a work venture.

The notion of muses and that creative people are tapped in to some energy source was riveting. I have also heard it described as being "being close to the fire." And the double edged sword of creativity, which is why I think the behavior of some creative types can be challenging, is that you can be too close to the fire. The trick is tapping the fire. But I think we can feel it when someone is tapped in.

I think we as writers all have this sometimes - moments where we are tapped in to that energy, that fire, and it is an incredibly powerful feeling. The trick is to learn how to channel it more consistently and effectively. Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk on creativity (which is fantastic and definitely worth a watch) describes ideas and words coming at her out of nowhere and that she would have to grasp them right away (which was sometimes inconvenient depending on where she was), or else they would blow through her hair and be gone.