It took me awhile to jump on the War of Art band wagon. I first heard about it when I was reading Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt's how to be a self publisher book, Write.Publish.Repeat. In that book they mention Steven Pressfield's book quite a few times, so I thought, "maybe I'll get around to reading it." It wasn't until I saw Hugh Howey's post (the author of the best selling Wool series) that I decided I needed to read this thing. I have to say, I ended up liking it, if only after a week or two from when I finished it.
So let me start off by saying that I as I was reading The War of Art, I felt like I disagreed with a lot of what Pressfield was saying, or at least I felt that it wasn't really worth saying. Who care's if if the muse we get our ideas from are angels or if it's just a predisposed genetic trait that perhaps some of us have and others don't? (I disagree with both of these theories, instead believing all humans are capable of being story tellers, it's just practice that makes one good at it). The book is filled with philosophical debates like this, but I think most artists, or craftsman for that matter, don't worry about where their gift came from, they just use it and sharpen it to a point as they perfect their art. So that's the background noise that fills the book, but the front stuff, the stuff that's most important, is the parts of the book that talk about what Pressfield calls "resistance." Now this is the part of the book that later made me realize that I actually liked it. Here he's not blabbering about what is or isn't, he's referring to something every person on Earth has felt before. It's that feeling you get when you want to start your own business, but a voice in your head tells you, "That would never work." It's the voice that says, "You don't have enough self control to exercise regularly, don't even bother looking into the price of a gym membership." In short, resistance is the voice in everyone's head that tells them they're a failure, and that risk you're considering is never worth taking.
Resistance is an asshole, and this book tells you to not only ignore it, but to defy it. To trust that everyone feels this way, that every great before you, every person who ever lived their life the way they wanted to; they felt the same way. Oddly enough, these simple facts that seem self evident, when read from somebody elses voice, they sure do feel comforting. Especially when you're navigating the scary and often times lonely world of self publishing. I say lonely, even though I've had the great fortune of having many supportive friends and family who've assisted me on my path to self publishing, writing is still a solitary craft, and it doesn't take much for you to begin questioning if every word you've written in the last month has been a complete waste of your time, and even worse, if that's what everything you write will be from now on. These thoughts are just resistance, Pressfield knows this, and because of his book, The War of Art, now so do we. So if you're a writer, an illustrator, an athlete, or if your someone who's just looking to try something new, something that's scary and you're not sure you can talk yourself into it, pick up this book, it could be the thing that sparks your will, and overturns that voice of resistance growing in your head.