A few days ago I published a tweet thread summarizing my key takeaways from the first volume of "War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. I want to expand on it in a 200 words format.
I practice information diet: I avoid consuming content that doesn't help me solve a problem I have at hands. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I was watching a Youtube video about what it means to be a pro writer, and this book was mentioned. I was intrigued by its content. When I made 200 Words a Day, it was to vanquish my writer's block. And this book echoed with what I went through to battle this inner Resistance.
When you google "War of Art" you can find a free PDF version in the first results. I dug in. The first thing that struck me is that this book doesn't only apply to writing, but also to any creative endeavor. In the first volume, Steven Pressfield defines the notion of Resistance. Here is what I found particularly interesting:
1/ Writing is not hard. Starting to write to get momentum is the hard thing. Just writing one sentence can help you get enough momentum to reach 200 words or more. You have to sit down and start writing without over-thinking.
2/ Resistance is the force preventing us from realizing our full creative potential. Whenever you feel too lazy to work on something that is dear to you, this is Resistance. Procrastination is a by-product of Resistance.
3/ The dearer the goal, the stronger the Resistance. If you have a life project that you absolutely want to finish before you die, chances are your Resistance to work on it will increase.
4/ Don't be fooled by story telling, everyone has its own Resistance. Resistance takes many shapes and is highly subjective.
5/ Resistance must be kept in check. It never goes away. Beating it once doesn't mean that you can rest. You have to keep the ball rolling.
6/ Resistance feeds on your fear. Fear is the primary factor preventing us from realizing ourselves.
7/ There is a fear of starting, and a fear of finishing. Both are hard to fight and take practice.
8/ Waging war against Resistance is an everyday battle. Don't start tomorrow. Do it today.
9/ Resistance wins when we give in to escapism. Escapism is "the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment". Sex, drugs, mindless travels, binge-watching, binge eating, shallow work... all of those are common forms escapism can take.
10/ Resistance is fought using introspection (looking inwards, reflect), discipline, delayed gratification (resisting the temptation of an immediate reward in preference for a later one) and persistence (regular practice and quantity to reach quality).
11/ Letting Resistance win ends up in unhappiness: when you are not working toward your dreams, a vicious cycle takes place. Guilt and regrets eat you from inside. Don't wait for it to happen.
12/ Humans are social animals, but great artists arise from a strong individuality ("Who am ? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life?").
13/ an interesting quote: "those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern them"
14/ a second interesting quote: "Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement."
15/ Success is not a goal, but a by-product. Working toward success is useless, as it cannot be acted upon directly. Showing up every day to put in the work is what matters now.
16/ Leaving the comfort zone will not make you alone. Greater forces ("Muse") will accompany you. Related to 12), a strong independent spirit is necessary to develop an original perspective. It doesn't mean that you will be alone on this journey. Your dreams and aspirations will be there for you.
17/ No one else ("support") can do the work for you. Creation is first an internal journey.
18/ Being rational is the surest way to fail any creative venture. Rationalization prevents you from putting in the work. Just do it. Don't think of what happened or might happen. Carpe Diem and you will thank yourself no matter the outcome.
Can't wait to read Volume 2 (how to fight Resistance)!