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The War of Art – Keep Fighting

the war of art

I have told you this before, but it’s still an important topic, and even though I have come a long way, I am still hustling to win my inner creative battles. Like I said in my post about turning pro, and why I consider myself a professional and not an amateur anymore, I am fighting the resistance to keep working every single day.

Right now, as I am writing this, I am in a coffee shop, drinking green tea, watching people, listening to music and relaxing. But, I am working, and I am getting things done. To me, this is part of being a professional. When I was an amateur, I would listen to all the various excuses why I shouldn’t be working, and there are so many things to consider. Like now, I could just sit here and enjoy the green tea, or read the newspaper, or be on social media, or chat with a friend. And, don’t get me wrong, I love doing those things too, but first, I need to get my work done.

Today, I want to review The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He is the brilliant author who wrote Turning Pro, and before reading The War of Art, I had heard so many amazing things about the book. And just by reading one of the first pages, about the secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, I understood that this book was exactly what I needed to fight the resistance. 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.

Defining the Resistance

I have felt the resistance for many years, but I haven’t been able to define it, and I haven’t been able to understand what to do about it. I am a type of person who needs to know what I am up against. I want control, and I want to be able to understand what to do next.

I started out fighting an unknown force. But, like Steven Pressfield is saying, it’s fairly easy to define it:

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

So, we need to understand what we want to do, we need to understand our passion, and we need to understand what’s keeping us from doing it. It’s some kind of fear. It always is. But by understanding what keeps us from doing our jobs, and what keeps us from living our dreams, it’s so much easier to start walking the right path.

The resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. It’s an energy field. The resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.

This is exactly what happened when I started writing my novel, and it’s exactly what happened when I wrote Fuzzy (the complete story is available on my blog). I was thinking that not a single person would be interested in reading my stories, and I was thinking that people would laugh if they read it, and I was thinking that I would never ever finish writing them. It’s exactly what happened when I started running as well. Instead of going outside for a run, I would look at the time, to decide if it was too early or too late. I would look at the weather, maybe it was too cold or too hot, or maybe it was raining. I was looking at my family to see if they needed me to stay at home. I was doing whatever was in my power to keep me from running.

It’s important to understand that, the 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. And everyone who has a body experiences resistance.

Combating Resistance

When you’ve beaten the resistance, you’ve turned pro. I believe I have, and it’s a great feeling. It’s not that I am better than an amateur, because I am not, I have just beaten the resistance, and I keep hustling to get my work done. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

The War of Art is more or less a book about being creative, and doing what you love to do, and keep doing it like a professional (and beat the resistance). But, it’s also a book about finding your passion, and letting go. Think about it, we’re already professionals in our jobs; we show up every day. We show up no matter what. We stay on the job all day. We are committed over the long haul. The stakes for us are high and real. We work for money. We don’t over-identify with our jobs. We master the techniques of our jobs. We have a sense of humor about our jobs. We receive praise or blame in the real world.

The next step is to let go, and start doing what you really love. It took me a long time to finally start working as a solo entrepreneur. I didn’t think about all the positive effects of work, I thought about the fear. I am on a mission, and I don’t like disorder. Earlier, I stopped working, or I stopped taking action when I discovered fear. Now, it’s more or less the opposite. I take action whenever I face fear. There are no excuses anymore, and I am always prepared. I recognize my limitations, and I am reinventing myself. And, that’s exactly what The War of Art is about.

Beyond Resistance

To me, even though I have become a professional, that doesn’t mean I am not fighting the resistance, and it doesn’t mean that I am not hustling every day to keep focusing on what I need to do. I love to start. And I love to keep going. I am experiencing a kind of magic in what I do. But, like I read in The War of Art, I understand that we are all artists and we are all pathfinders, and we need to keep going.

If you find yourself procrastinate, and if you find yourself asking the question; are you born a writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter or a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

13 responses to “The War of Art – Keep Fighting”

  1. Mark says:

    I love this post, Jens! Resistance is an interesting way to describe the battle within.

    You must fight through the resistance. Its a battle for your mind.

    The more you take control of the things you put your mind on, the stronger and more capable you become of being extraordinary in everything you do.

    Cheers, mate!

  2. This is a great abstract of The War of Art. The main point is about our resistance and it’s the resistance to being the best we can be that gets in the way of great work. How often do people come into this world and leave with the song, book or passion still inside. It’s tough because we are taught to be small and the resistance Pressfield talks about keeps us that way. Only through beating the resistance can we truly be creative beings and realise our potential. This is a great little book that all writers and creatives need to read.

    Thanks for bringing this back to me Jens 🙂

  3. Carolyn says:

    Wow, Jens, you do so much, it’s difficult to imagine you resisting anything! Yes, we all have those negative voices in our head telling us to procrastinate, relax, slack off, etc. but we must overcome them.

    Excellent point by you and by the War of Art that if we are following our passions, then resistance is much easier to overcome (but still present).

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Veronica says:

    What an eye opener. We all have this little battles inside of us, it’s a shame that for most people, the negative side always wins. Just remember, there’s no such thing as impossible.

  5. Sandra says:

    To finish work before the deadline or to rush things and mess it all up. This is just one situation where procrastination is bad for us. It gets tiring after a while.

  6. Kristine says:

    Very inspiring article. I can relate completely to what you are saying because I often encounter resistance within. Especially when you mentioned jogging.

  7. Emilia says:

    Procrastination. I often find myself doing this even if I have really something important to do. I think it’s a trait of my childhood that I’ve brought along to my adulthood.

  8. Yasir Khan says:

    Keep fighting, believing and praying. It is what you need to stay motivated and focus on your objectives.

  9. To say I am a fan of Steven Pressfield’s books, that aid the artist in living up to their calling, would not be enough. I feel so many other emotions about it. I have been transfixed and I think validated even. Since I was a little girl sitting in the back seat of my parents car, as they traveled the countryside, gypsies and rebels of their day, I knew. I knew that the voice I had was with a crayon, that would years later develop into oils on canvas and clay creating figures, were in fact me and my purpose. I wanted to use my voice and so I did with the tool of art. Yet we can be a lazy bunch, distracted and confused at times. “Do the work” I read in “The War of Art”. Meet my calling and purpose and just do the work. No excuses, no accepting of that devil “resistance”, just do the work. I confess though that I do in fact give in and fall back on that lazy streak in me. To combat it I keep a copy of Mr. Pressfield’s 4 books, directed towards artists, in my purse, by my bed, in the kitchen and “The Warrior Ethos” can be seen right here beside my computer as I type this. I am much more than a fan.

  10. says:

    Excellent blog! Do you have anny tips forr aspiring
    writers? I’m planning to start my own website soon but
    I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with
    a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are soo many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any ideas? Thank you!

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