There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

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The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is one of those rare books have read more than 3 times, I personally like the book as it explore the challenges most creatives encounter with an emphasis on Resistance.The War of Art book is divided into three parts:

  • Book One: Resistance : Defining the Enemy
  • Book Two: Combating Resistance : Turning Pro
  • Book Three: Beyond Resistance : Higher Realm

Steven Pressfield has written a triology on the topic starting with :

In Part One, Pressfield defines the enemy of creativity which he labels Resistance.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

  • Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice?
  • Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others?
  • Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?
  • Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be?
  • Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

According to Pressfield, here are the top activites that eleicit resistance:

  • The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
  • Any diet or health regimen.
  • Any program of spiritual advancement.
  • Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
  • Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
  • Education of every kind.
  • Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
  • The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
  •  Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
  •  The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.

Pressfield thoughts on Resistance:

  • Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.

RESISTANCE IS INSIDIOUS

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.

RESISTANCE IS IMPLACABLE

Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.

RESISTANCE IS IMPERSONAL

Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care. Resistance is a force of nature. It acts objectively.

Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain and transits the heavens by the same laws as the stars. When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance, we must remember this.

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it

RESISTANCE PLAYS FOR KEEPS

Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.

RESISTANCE IS FUELED BY FEAR

Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.

RESISTANCE AND SELF-DOUBT

Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are.

The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.

Part Two: Tuning Pro

Pressfield shares the following thought on what makes the professional thick:

A PROFESSIONAL IS PATIENT

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can’t sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash.

The professional, on the other hand, understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.

“it’s the most pernicious species of myth to set before the awakening writer, because it seduces him into believing he can pull off the big score without pain and without persistence.’

The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery.
The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.

A PROFESSIONAL ACCEPTS NO EXCUSES

The amateur, underestimating Resistance’s cunning, permits the flu to keep him from his chapters; he believes the serpent’s voice in his head that says mailing off that manuscript is more important than doing the day’s work.

The professional has learned better. He respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.

The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished. The pro doesn’t even pick up the phone. He stays at work.

A PROFESSIONAL IS PREPARED

The professional understands that Resistance is fertile and ingenious. It will throw stuff at him that he’s never seen before.

The professional prepares mentally to absorb blows and to deliver them. His aim is to take what the day gives him. He is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can. He understands that the field alters every day. His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants.

A PROFESSIONAL DOES NOT TAKE FAILURE (OR SUCCESS) PERSONALLY

Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.

Resistance knows this and uses it against us. It uses fear of rejection to paralyze us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation. I had a dear friend who had labored for years on an excellent and deeply personal novel. It was done. He had it in its mailing box. But he couldn’t make himself send it off. Fear of rejection unmanned him.

The professional cannot take rejection personally because to do so reinforces Resistance. Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy. The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even if it’s true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already.

Part Three: Higher Realm

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST

In the end, we arrive at a kind of model of the artist’s world, and that model is that there exist other, higher planes of reality, about which we can prove nothing, but from which arise our lives, our work and our art. These spheres are trying to communicate with ours. When Blake said Eternity is in love with the creations of time, he was referring to those planes of pure potential, which are timeless, placeless, spaceless, but which long to bring their visions into being here, in this time-bound, space-defined world.

The artist is the servant of that intention, those angels, that Muse. The enemy of the artist is the small-time Ego, which begets Resistance, which is the dragon that guards the gold. That’s why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artists over time acquire modesty and humility. They may, some of them, conduct themselves flamboyantly in public. But alone with the work they are chaste and humble. They know they are not the source of the creations they bring into being. They only facilitate. They carry. They are the willing and skilled instruments of the gods[…] they serve.

The War of Art book shares lot of insights on the battle and struggles faced by the creative individual. The book also shares lots of nuggets on how the only way to deal with resistance is Do the work and turn professional in the process achieve your purpose and fulfil your destiny.

The key is to sit down and write the book/article, start that project, upload the project online, just do it. All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Buy the Book:The War of Art by Steven Pressfield Print | Kindle (eBook) | Audiobook

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