This book is about the internal barrier we all have within us, the enemy which prevents us from reaching our greatest achievement and the crippling doubt in ourselves.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield explains everything you wanted to know about Resistance (that devil inside) but never dared asking yourself; why do I procrastinate? Is it possible to live a fulfilling creative life without going crazy or killing your family members? How does creativity work exactly? Will I ever reach my potential as an artist?
I’m not even kidding that these are some of the questions this book asks. And answers. With practical advice on how to defeat Resistance and overcome procrastination so that you can finally get started.
What is the first step in overcoming resistance? Do it now! Write for ten minutes, anything. But not about how to write or why you don’t want to write: no rationalizations, no self-pity. Write like a demon seizing something from the inside of your body and hurling it out onto the screen before you have time to think or talk yourself out of it (if demons can type). Don’t worry about style, grammar, spelling—or even handwriting for that matter. Just gush out the words one after another, after another as quickly as they come into your head and keep them coming until you have a half hour’s worth at least. Write about anything you want, and don’t worry about what it says. Your job is to keep your hand moving steadily across the page. The object is to get on the other side of Resistance.
Pressfield explains that the answer to overcoming Resistance is simple: you just have to do it. You can’t think yourself into starting, but you must act.
If I had a dollar for every time my students say they want to write but don’t have enough time, I would be able to buy myself an island somewhere nice and retire. In truth we all live with a limited amount of hours in one day and weeks in one month. Having too much work doesn’t mean not having anything else to do, but only means prioritizing and planning wisely. Pressfield acknowledges this fact when he states “We all have the same number of hours per day as Beyoncé (assuming she sleeps eight hours and works sixteen).”
The author suggests that you imagine Resistance in a variety of ways: as an archenemy, demon or alien from outer space. The purpose is to transform Resistance into something concrete and tangible which we can fight against. It’s incredibly important that you remember the fact that it is just a part of ourselves.
It is not some alien force; it comes out of our own brain. This is a hard fact to accept…
We are programmed for Resistance by the millions of decisions we make every day, from the very first one—to get up or hit the snooze button—to the ten-thousandth one—to put on clothes or underwear. We choose among these options routinely, without thinking about it. Yet with each choice, we establish neural pathways that reinforce and perpetuate our habits of thought and action.
Nietzsche said “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”. Having great passion for your work is vital. In fact you should love what you do. And if you don’t have that yet, it is your goal to reach for. Pressfield believes that only then we will stop procrastinating and be able to fight Resistance everyday and in every way.
Our lives are defined not by the choices we make but by the energy behind those choices. We must learn not to settle for a job just because we need a paycheck—but find work that feeds our souls (or at least keeps them from starving).
There are many ways to overcome Resistance and procrastination, but the most important is simply doing it. The War of Art tells us that we all have a limited number of hours in one day, so it’s best to focus on what really matters: our passions and creative endeavors.