The War of Art...A Review.
This book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, has been on my radar for years. I see artists (on Twitter, in other books, on blogs) reference it all the time. And I finally just decided one day to put a hold on it at the library.
The title alone is intriguing. Art IS war. It's a constant battle to create something new every day. I've learned this in the most acute way since starting this business. Us creatives want to think that what we do, creating, is this ethereal, too-delicate-to-push, work-when-the-inspiration-strikes type effort. And yes, Pressfield thinks ideas themselves are other-worldly. But he combats the notion that we must wait to work.
He urges artists to show up, to be present each and every day like they would at any other job. He talks about Resistance (yes, with a capital R), the evil in the world trying to prevent each of us from doing what we are called to do. He personifies it, talks about it stalking us, slinking over our shoulder as we sit down to work, whispering distractions ... procrastinations ... rationalizations to us about why we don't need to do it.
It's a pesky thing that I deal with daily. My Resistance tells me: "It's only 8:30 in the morning. You could take a break and go to the store and still have hours to work later today." But then I get to the store, and realize that I should probably shop for the whole week while I'm there. And then I might get a text from a friend who also works from home asking if I want to stop by. So I do. Then when I get back to my house at 1:30 p.m. all of a sudden the inspiration has just left me. Hello Netflix in bed.
I've written too much. My point: Pressfield acknowledges in the last part of the book that yes, we need inspiration and we need to call on the gods for it. But more than that, and more importantly for me, he tells us to show up and do our work for us, without comparison to anyone else's. Every day. Easy enough. (Also, he's funny.)
Who is this book for?
Creative friend: A resounding yes (buy it for all of them)
Your boss: Probably not...he might be afraid you're calling him lazy.
Wife: If she's trying to work from home with little ones...ABSOLUTELY.
Teenager: Maybe - what do they want to be when they grow up?
What does this book say?
Resistance is the most toxic force on the plant. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be ... it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius ... our soul's seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential.
Just as Resistance has its seat in hell, so Creation has its home in heaven. And it's not just a witness, but an eager and active ally.
Every breath we take, every heartbeat, every evolution of every cell comes from God and is sustained by God every second, just as every creation, invention, every bar of music or line of verse, every thought, vision, fantasy, every dumb-ass flop and stroke of genius comes from that infinite intelligence that created us and the universe in all its dimensions ... To acknowledge that reality, to efface all ego, to let the work come through us and give it back freely to its source, that, in my opinion, is as true to reality as it gets.