The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a quick read. One of the major topics in the book is Resistance™. Though it’s written by an author for other authors, I believe it will help people who stutter as well. As the subtitle says: “Break through the blocks and win your inner (creative) battles“. Yes, it’s also written for people who stutter.
It’s a motivational book and while I have read my share of self-help books it’s one of the better ones out there. Some would say that you do not learn a skills, but I disagree. You learn to identity Resistance and do something about it. It’s true though that you don’t follow a storyline. What Steven Pressfield does is to give anecdotes of his own struggles with life and writing in particular.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.- page 43
I liked to relate Resistance to stuttering and how stuttering lives an entire life in people who stutter simply because of Resistance to deal with what matters. In general the concept of Resistance could be replaced with Anxiety.
Here is a paragraph that gives you insight about what the book is like:
Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer?” Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. – page 39.
So when you are scared to death about speaking, it’s because you really are a speaker.
What I like about The War of Art
I especially like the format. You can look at almost any page and be motivated to beat or learn about Resistance. Another thing is that it is well written and easily read. I thank Steven Pressfield for writing back when I emailed him and also for coining the term Resistance and defining it. After I read the book, I found answers to questions I’ve had for a very long time.
Now, I know what Resistance looks like, how it feels and the ways it creeps in on me. But I also know how to fight it off.
Here is an overview of the book:
- Book One: Resistance – Defining the Enemy
- Book Two: Combating Resistance – Turning Pro
- Book Three: Beyond Resistance – Higher Realm
The War of Art teaches you how to defeat or fighting Resistance. Here is another quote:
All of us are pros in one area: our jobs. We get a paycheck. We work for money. We are professionals. Now: Are there principles we can take from what we’re already successfully doing in our workaday life and apply to our artistic aspirations? What exactly are the qualities that define us as professionals?
- We show up every day. We might do it only because we have to, to keep from getting fired. But we do it. We show up every day.
- We show up no matter what. In sickness and in health, come hell or high water, we stagger in to the factory. We might do it only so as not to let down our co-workers, or for other, less noble reasons. But we do it. We show up no matter what.
- We stay on the job all day. Our minds may wander, but our bodies remain at the wheel. We pick up the phone when it rings, we assist the customer when he seeks our help. We don’t go home till the whistle blows.
- We are committed over the long haul. Next year we may go to another job, another company, another country. But we’ll still be working. Unti we hit the lottery, we are part of the labor force.
– page 69-70
You need to use your imagination when reading the book and translate his teachings in to your everyday life. Like in the quote above, you have to see “speaking” as your “job”. It means you do it every day. You are committed to speaking over the long haul etc.
What I dislike about The War of Art
The War of Art is very short. It’s 165 pages. But wordwise it’s more like 80 pages. There are a lot of pages with one or two sentences. The rest of such a page is white space. If you did a hard editing you could have gotten all the information and points in a single article.
Pressfield has written two more books related to this one and I honestly think that he could have made one book instead of three. But there’s more money in several books.
Some might say that you could summarize the entire book in how sentences like: Stop procrastinating and do whatever it takes to reach your goals. But I think that is unjust to the work Pressfield has done. He goes deeper than most to define Resistance.
I would have liked to read more anecdotes of his early life as a writer. So I bought the follow-up to The War of Art. It’s called Turning Pro. In this way The War of Art is a teaser in to how he succeeded in life and writing, and he leaves the reader wanting more anecdotes on how miserable he was and how he made it as a writer in the end.
Why you should read The War of Art
If it’s that bad why read it? Because it’s also very good. You’ll learn to identify Resistance and how to fight it. And if you combine this knowledge with mindfulness you have a powerful combination. Use the book whenever you are in doub or feel anxiety creeping up on you; that just Resistance poking at you.