Book Review: The War of Art

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative BattlesThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The dude who wrote Bagger Vance writes an immensely powerful and relatable bit of feel-good motivational speaking wherein he names our mutual demon. He calls it Resistance, and its sole purpose to keeping you from doing “your work”, the Aristotlean virtue you were put on this planet to do.

Resistance is highly seductive. It knows your work is hard. It knows things like “research” and “editing” are not your work, but peripheral to it, and thus, easy bait-and-switches. Resistance loves when you procrastinate. It wants you to clean the house, go to the gym, dick around on social media, because none of those things are your work and it hates you and doesn’t want you to do your work, by any means necessary.

Resistance is soma from Brave New World. It’s comfortable and widely available and it lets you not care about the thing you’re supposed to be doing. But you know you’re supposed to be doing it. It’s your work. Otherwise, you’re just taking up space, and you’re going to get depressed, and Resistance will gloat over all the time it managed to get you to sacrifice to it.

Resistance isn’t an abstract. It’s an actual physical demon, something actively possessing you, keeping you from finishing your book or painting or whatever you do, and it must be exorcised as such.

Pressfield says the key is deliberate daily practice. We’re all rarring to go when we get hit by the inspiration, and we bemoan its erratic schedule. We want to be inspired, but we want it on our schedule. Pressfield says that’s greedy because it’s not us doing the writing, it’s inspiration. We’re a channel for it. Whether you believe in metaphysics or not, we don’t know where thoughts come from; we don’t decide to think and then think. Thinking just happens, in whatever order it wants to, and the subconscious that it bubbles up from is as foreign and indistinct and mystical as God or the muses or the cosmos or whatever else you wanna call it.

Solution is simple: open the landing site for inspiration at the same time every day, and it’ll come by more frequently. Force yourself to write each morning. Eventually, mornings will be when you’re inspired. You won’t feel guilty all the time, and you’ll be conquering Resistance and doing your goddamned work.

This book is a masterpiece and I’m probably going to reread it soon; the audiobook is only like 3 hours long.

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