I was hanging out in a bookstore looking at the contents of a tome containing all the Gnostic gospels, trying to imagine reading it all (it’s way over 1,000 pages), dreaming of retirement, reflecting on when I might have enough time for everything I want to do, when I heard the people who work there talking about a workshop using the book The War of Art.
Now that I can read, I thought. I’ve been hearing about it ever since it came out. Other writers have been telling me how it’s one of those essential books. So I bought that one instead.
Holy Cow! What took me so long to read it?
Resistance, that’s what. At least, that’s what Steven Pressfield calls it. I love how he’s made the whole thing very simple. Resistance fights us to the death over doing our work, the work we were born to do, the work that will push Humanity one iota closer to realizing its full potential. Our job is to just do the work anyway.
Yeah, that might sound grandiose, but if we all did pursue our dreams, what would the world look like? Probably better, bit by bit. But leaving that question aside, how would we feel? Better, that’s for sure. I’m always happier when I’m doing the work rather than procrastinating. Sometimes dreaming and listening is necessary, but that’s doing the work, too.
His list of how Resistance shows up is funny, darkly funny. Like, “the consumption of all products containing fat, sugar, salt, or chocolate.” He names healing as resistance. Boy, am I guilty of that. I’ll start teaching meditation again when I’m enlightened. Ha! Self-dramatization. Who, me?
I love how he says once you do start writing, that mysterious process begins. The universe begins to support you, to suggest ideas, to bring people to you to help. The Muse whispers to you how to revise what you’ve just finished, brings you ideas for more work.
Become a pro, he says. Don’t write for money, love, approval. Don’t chase that next “thing” that’s going to catch on. Don’t belong to a hierarchy, he says. Claim your territory, put your head down, and write. Yeah, I said I wanted to get a fabulous contract, have a movie, and retire from the proceeds, as well as fund my son and grandchildren. But will I stop writing if that doesn’t happen? No. Pressfield says if you’re the only human left on earth, would you still do your art?
It’s so romantic, isn’t it? So glorious. Ha. It’s like his writer friend told him when he finally finished a novel after years of throwing them out right before they were done, making his friends and family miserable, not to mention himself, running away, etc. His writer friend said, “You finished? Good, now go start the next one.”