The War of Art, written by Steven Pressfield is intended for the unmotivated or blocked writer. It is labeled as a craft book, but there is no evidence of craft of language, character, or even setting found amongst the pages. Instead, techniques are given to assist the writer when he becomes stuck in the mire of apathy or self-doubt so he can “battle the enemy within, resistance” (4). At the beginning, the author describes the dawn of his day which entales grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting down to write.
According to Pressfield, it does not matter if one does not know what to write. It does not matter how wonderful the words are. What counts is that he is sitting down to write (2). Often we are met with our own resistance. There are many ways to resist fulfilling our passion, our vocation, our gift. One common way to resist is finding excuses. There are always pressing affairs that must be done at once like the phone call to the dentist or the mother-in-law. Different aspects of our lives, often brainless activities, can seem more interesting than our own words. Pressfield warns against falling into the trap of social media, whether it is the telephone, letters, or even in today’s world, facebook. The new writer must turn off his smart phone today and realize he is not a celebrity.
Resistance has allies, one being procrastination. The emerging writer does not have anyone to rely on to keep him honest about his time or efforts. The emerging writer does not carry confidence possibly because he does not have a cheerleader he trusts. Mom, Dad, or spouse may say his work is ingenious, but does he trust them? Probably not; they love him, and he thinks they are blinded by their love. Therefore, he looks for other things to do today. He does not say he will never write because he years to, and he does not want to kill that piece of himself. He says, “I’ll start tomorrow.”
The writer must take charge of his life; otherwise procrastination becomes and endless cycle. It will continue to play on repeat for a lifetime if the writer does not break through the barriers of uncertainty. Never writing starts with procrastinating one day at a time. He will sit there and ask, am I good enough? Pressfield suggests if a writer is asking this question, it indicates he is a writer, and if he is not good enough today, he will be someday if he keeps on writing.
The writer must hold up self-doubt, look at it in the mirror, and use it as an ally. It is a reflection of love (39). If the act of writing evokes love in whatever form, then it must be fate. He must become a writer. The act of writing and the writer are linked forever. Now, all he has to do is grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and write (20).
Side Note: I did not care for this book. I felt as though Steven Pressfield is grasping at straws to be a writer. I understand the concept of resistance and the power to control our own destiny, and I even agree with him and may be resisting by simply not caring for the book. But he found enough words to repeat the same message that can be explained in a page and a half to fill one hundred sixty-six pages. I would have liked to read at least part of this book a few years ago before I realized I was resisting. I do not feel as though I am blindly resisting anymore. I know there will be a point when it happens again, but I trust I will figure out what is happening and just sit down at my computer and start typing. I have to wonder if this means I am resisting Pressfield’s message?