Thursday, January 16, 2014

Resistance and The War of Art

“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Steven Pressfield

I just read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Ok, I confess, I didn’t read it. I listened to the audio book. Twice. (Warning: Don’t listen to this book when your children are around. He uses some profanity.) And then I bought the book so I could highlight stuff. It’s so good! It’s all about resistance. Really? I thought it was just me who insists that I really, really, really want to work on my books, but when I get an opportunity to do it, I decide I have to organize my closets or purge my email box or make homemade sauerkraut. You mean this happens to other people too? What a revelation.

One form of resistance he talks about is not finishing things. I do that! Right now I’m about 85% done with two projects, and I’m feeling that pull to walk away for a while. I don’t know what to do about the end of a story I’m writing, and I’m wrapped up so tightly about it that nothing I’ve written this week really works. But I’m going to win these battles. I’m not giving in to resistance.

Pressfield talks about the culture of healing that exists in places like Santa Fe, New Mexico. (I have some favorite gurus from that area.) If we accept the idea that we have to heal ourselves emotionally before we can do our work, we are giving in to resistance. He says:

 “The part of us that we imagine needs healing is not the part we create from. That part is far deeper and stronger. The part we create from can’t be touched by anything our parents did or society did. That part is unsullied, uncorrupted, soundproof, waterproof and bulletproof. In fact, the more troubles we’ve got, the better and richer that part becomes.”

He says it’s our personal lives that need healing, and that has nothing to do with our work. But it can be healing to our personal lives when we do our work. I have experienced this myself in a big way, but it still struck me as an epiphany.

He goes on to tell the difference between a professional and an amateur. If we really want to write books or make art, we have to turn pro. We have to show up every day no matter what.

The third part of The War of Art is about where our inspiration comes from. Pressfield calls it muses or angels. I believe angels whisper in our ears. I believe the stories I write exist before I write them, and I just have to let them come through me.

So now, every time I feel resistance coming back, I put this audio book on and listen for a while. If I know my enemy, I can win the battle.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Sounds like a book to keep in the personal library.