The War of Art: Steven Pressfield's field guide to battle self sabotage and get shit done.
Ok, if you consider yourself to be even the slightest bit creative The War of Art by Steven Pressfield should be required reading. I say this because if you plan to incorporate creativity into your life, your punching a ticket to ride the struggle bus.
The worst part is we opt for the struggling but don't know why. Doing the creating is fun and we enjoy it but the self-sabotage is rampant leading up to actually working on the project. In the opening pages of the book, Steven Pressfield imparts some wisdom that rings as true as anything I've ever heard. " There's a secret that real writers know, that wannabe writers don't. And that secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."
Thats a bitch, but true, at least it is for me. It literally has been the biggest struggle of writing this blog post here and now. Why is conjuring up the motivation and discipline so damn difficult?
reflecting on a lifetime of investigation into this force that prevents us from doing the important things we strive to do, he put a name to the son of a bitch and called it RESISTANCE.
It seems like a simple thing but I believe it to be the most valuable insight in the book. Giving it a face and a name allows you to be able to recognize the enemy when he is creeping in, trying to sabotage your plans for a better life. one example in my own life that perplexed me for a long time was waking up early. If I had to go to school or work when that alarm clock would ring at the wee hours of the morning, I would begrudgingly get up, curse under my breath, and trudge into whatever chasm of minutia was laid out for me to dig through. On the flip side, if I planned something for myself that I really wanted to do, I wouldn't get up. I would plan things like reading, exercise, and making designs to leave a dent in the universe. All things I valued a great deal, things that seemed contrary to elements of work and school I hated, but the things I hated I would get up for, and the things I loved I slept right through. It was something that used to frustrate me about myself to no end. I thought that it was a personality flaw and I have to tell you it was isolating thinking that it was just something I go through. Years later with getting up early for myself being no problem, I still experience it in other aspects of my life but now I'm armed with the knowledge that it is a force of nature that likely all of us face.
Resistance will visit day in and day out to prevent the most important work from getting done. Whether that takes the form of perfectionism preventing us finishing or procrastination preventing us from starting. So really riding the struggle bus is kind of smooth in comparison to waiting at the bus stop with our helmet on hoping inspiration swings by to pick us up. Pressfield's answer to fighting off this gnarly monster is turning pro
My interpretation of turning pro was to take the same traits we apply to the job we hate and to replicate them in the practice we are hoping one day replaces it. Like I mentioned before, jobs I felt actively crushing my soul; as I explained what makes a pancake combo for the third time for someone who ends up ordering an omelet or building a conduit in what will end up being some other mans dream home, I would show up for every damn day. Rain or shine, I never called off when I was sick, I just punched my card and worked my ass off until the day was done knowing on Friday I would have a paycheck. with a job if my hours got slashed or pay was cut id be pissed and put my foot down. With a job your playing for keeps because it means survival, and if your going to turn your hobby into your trade that has to mean survival too.
Take that mailman mentality into whatever work you know needs to be done, but it has to be done every day. It's going to be the same process every time, you'll feel the resistance rising up in your belly as you know how easy it would be to blow it off, it would feel so good to do just about anything else, but don't hit snooze. Drag your feet and swear under your breath but show up to do the work that matters.