How many of you have wanted to write a great book? How about simply finish your first one? Have you ever wanted to do something bigger than yourself? Learn to speak a language? Lose a bunch of weight? Run a marathon or join a humanitarian aid organization? If the answer to any of these is yes- then you have met the enemy.
Not the wanting. The desire to rise above yourself embodies all that is noble and good in humankind. The enemy is Resistance.
“Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: We don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from the East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.”
I found the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield with other craft books at The Lone Star Conference this past weekend. I’m late to the table of knowledge, but better late than never.
He breaks this book into three separate books. Book 1 is about identifying Resistance- the insidious evil that sucks us from our potential selves. There are many things he labels as Resistance. I’m guilty of a lot of them, but my main enemy is PROCRASTINATION! I found myself procrastinating about writing this article pointing out how procrastination will turn my potential into an unrealized dream. Now, if that’s not pathetic, I don’t know what is…
Book 2 is about “Turning Pro”. Words like professional, order, endurance etc. pop up and you know this writer is a pro. All you have to do is look at his career to know he practices what he preaches. His history books are used at West Point and by the Marines, some are even assigned by professors at Oxford. One of his fiction novels, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was made into a movie and The War of Art is used by artists and entrepreneurs worldwide.
Book 3 is called “The Higher Realm” which lies beyond Resistance. This is where we find the pay off for persevering through our own nonsense. After you’ve done a day’s work, your mind is free to receive other ideas that seem to multiply rapidly. The most important thing in art, of any form, is work. When you show up day after day trying to create, something special begins to happen. We set a process in motion where power is concentrated and muses are allowed to flourish. Ideas come. Words are written. We are artists.
Have you read this book? If not, I recommend it to anyone who wants to try something out of their comfort zone. To quote Esquire, “It truly is a vital gem…a kick in the ass.”