The War of Art

I recently finished listening to The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield. It was recommended on one of the Tim Ferriss podcasts that I’ve been enjoying so much lately.

The War Of ArtIt struck me as a Dude’s book. But I loved it for that.

The first section is about taking all the miscellaneous stuff that keeps you from pursuing a creative ambition and giving it a capital letter and a shadowy cloak so that you have something to do battle against. In fact, I don’t know if Pressfield capitalized Resistance, since I listened to it as an audiobook, but it would shock me if he didn’t.

Resistance is subtle and sneaky. It sabotages your creative output by telling you what you can’t do, and giving you a thousand excuses for putting off that project until tomorrow, or the next day/month/year. And the really treacherous part – is that some of those reasons are reasonable and true. The moment your wife goes into labor really ISN’T the time to sit down and begin your next novel. Nor are the sleepless days after when you need to enjoy your new baby. Nor the toddler years when the kids get so active that it’s almost a full time job just to chase them down. Nor the elementary school years…

Pressfield also described his encounters with Resistance surrounding writing The War of Art. Resistance whispered that he was a novelist, not a non-fiction writer. Enjoy success by sticking to what you know. Also, who was he to tell people what to do? As if he had all the answers. This last one struck me particularly hard. Hadn’t I just said that to myself about an idea for an article?

For me, Resistance has a prissy little side-kick too. Perfectionism. I imagine her alternately as a pinch-faced girl with a very long and pointed nose to look down on things, or as a fussy parrot that constantly repeats, “You know, that’s not very good.”

I have a friend, who created something new each day and posted it to a blog. It might have been a single photograph, or a new meal, or a painting, depending on the day and the amount of time available. That was before I met her, but one of the things that I admire about her now is her ability to fearlessly put things out into the world. I want that.


Engarde, Resistance. I’ll take you and your squeaky little parrot too.