The War Of Art

I just finished re-reading another great little book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. I have read it several times now. This time I read it for a book club. It’s a guy’s book club. Not that women aren’t allowed or have not been invited. But so far, only guys have shown up.

We meet about once every six weeks for breakfast at The Egg and I restaurant (there is  an old movie of that title, very funny and worth seeing.) So far, we have been reading self-improvement related books—books about getting off your dime and getting things done. This group all seem to have ambitions in one form or another. We also, dare I say it, get a little touchy feely in our discussions—all in a very manly way I assure you. No one has cried—yet.

One of the big ideas of The War of Art, is that whenever we attempt to undertake a meaningful pursuit that will result in good—be it artistic, business, self-improvement, relationship, educational or service related, or anything that will bring good into the world—resistance kicks in.

Resistance shows up in many forms. It can be external, like when you finally make a commitment to eat healthy but your friends continue to entice you with offers of Hostess Ding Dongs and Twinkies. Most of the time, however, resistance is more subtle and therefore so much more effective at stopping us from doing the good we desire to do.

It shows up as procrastination, denial, misdirected action or no action at all. It is activities, good or bad, that keep us from doing our work. It’s addictions and distractions. It’s a lack of urgency. It is any and everything that stops us from doing the actual work that will produce the desired good we want to achieve.

I face resistance when it comes to my writing. I have found that if one does not write, as in putting fingers on the keyboard—or pen to paper (how retro is that?)—nothing gets written. I might accomplish something else, like the laundry but only because I did that instead of writing. Resistance has won in that case—folded laundry but nothing written.

In its subtler form, resistance takes the form of activity that is related to the actual work that needs to be done, but is not, in the final analysis, the work that will result in the good you desire to create. For example, talking about, reading about, thinking about, researching, attending webinars or writing conferences, or anything for that matter about writing, is not writing—it is resistance. Actually writing is writing. Period. To be writing, one must be writing.

I have decided to make a commitment to fight resistance and do the work of writing. I am starting off with something I can commit to, something that will be hard to fail at because it is so obtainable. For at least 5 days a week I will sit down and write for a minimum of 15 minutes.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but the key here is not some big, grand, overwhelming effort, but rather something I know I can and will do, day in and day out. It’s not to say I can’t write more days or for longer periods of time. At times I will and have. The object here is consistence and persistence in overcoming resistance. Actually, the object is to get the work done—in this case, the writing.

So far, as you can read for yourself, the writing is getting done.