Monday, July 12, 2010
I Wasn't in the Mood
Boredom is a rare thing for me. I do my best to keep myself occupied by something because the feeling of "stir crazy" never sits well.
Tonight, I was bored.
I felt a headache coming on and decided that even though it was late, I'd make a little bit of coffee to hopefully knock a possible migraine right back to wherever they come from.
I texted a friend who was busy reading. I realized I hadn't read in a few days. I didn't think I had anything good on the shelf even though it's full of ones I've never even read the back covers of. I remembered a book the friend lent me about a month ago. I knew it was about writing. I knew it was supposed to be some type of self-help, motivational thing and I wasn't in the mood for that.
Somehow I found my way to the bookshelf anway and saw the book sitting there.
"A kick in the ass," one critic wrote.
Two hours later, my life is changed.
Resistance Doesn't Have to Live On
The Book (totally deserves to be capitalized from here on out) is Steven Pressfield's The War of Art.
You may have heard of him if you've read The Legend of Bagger Vance.
I haven't. Now I want to. This guy is that good.
The Book is divided into three sections and they all share one common theme: Resistance.
This blog is full of articles about all of our little resistances.
Not to offend anyone (and I know I'm guilty of it) but how many times have we posted on here about how we "need to be writing"?
We need to "just do it!"?
How many tips can we give each other about "how to overcome writer's block"?
We're not overcoming anything by just talking about it.
The Book opens with Mr. Pressfield telling us how "he rolls".
He wakes up and WRITES.
It's a job.
There is no calling out on your 9-5 most of the time is there?
If we're writers, we're writers.
It's what we do.
There's a part of the Book that talks about what we do if we were the last person on Earth.
If you answer writing...guess what? Yeah, you're a writer.
Now you can proceed.
The War of Art declares resistance the enemy.
Steven Pressfield even goes as far as to say that resistance is the Devil himself.
That it's self destructive and that self destructiveness spreads to the entire planet.
Resistance is fear.
"The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it."
He doesn't sugarcoat.
This guy tells you like it is.
And he tells you how he feels about it.
Whether you like it or not.
You find yourself wanting to throw the book down.
Then you realiize that's resistance.
And you don't want that garbage anymore.
The second part of the Book discusses ways to "combat resistance."
This is where he tells us how "the pros" do it.
He makes it seem so simple, really.
"It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."
It's a short section but it explains a bit of his background and how he got to where he is.
It's a strategy guide.
It's also telling us that we can do it.
And many will.
Don't Get Freaked Out
The last section of the Book may be a bit controversial for some.
Keep an open mind about it.
Pressfield has no problem with sharing his religious and spiritual beliefs and I truly feel he considers writing to be his purpose in life and he treats it as if it's a spiritual journey.
A few chapters might fly over the heads of some because there are some metaphysical and "new age" principles in it.
To me, this is Pressfield's Philosophy 101. It's going to work for some and not for others.
But it helps you to move beyond that five-headed dragon now that youv'e defeated it.
And if you respond to the Book as quickly as I have, you may find yourself immediately setting a gameplan to make some changes or to suddenly write after not being able to really put anything down for like *cough cough* a year.
So Do Yourself a Favor....
I feel it can be applied to all aspects of life and not just our creative endeavors.
For me, it helped to remind me of what I missed most about really working at writing.
It made me realize all the resistances I was giving in to.
I have an older writer friend who's pretty darn amazing.
I told him once that I had an idea for a novel.
"Don't spend one minute on it if you can't throw it in a fire and watch it burn into the Heavens," he said.
I didn't quite understand what he said. I only thought I did.
Now, after reading The War of Art, I do.
And my hope is that you will too.
Tomorrow's going to be a new day for me.
It couldn't have come at a better time, either.
As always, good luck comrades and I hope you get a chance to check out this amazing book!