do it. create. walk and see. cut and paste. scratch and sniff.
do whatever you have to do to feed your soul.
this is my commitment.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The War of Art (another book report)

Sometimes the status of my library account is the catalyst for another book report.  When referencing my account this morning, I noticed that The War of Art written by Steven Pressfield is due back and cannot be renewed because of a long waiting list.

I still can't believe I didn't know this book existed (it was published in 2002).  I would consider this book a staple for anyone creative or pursuing any goal-oriented endeavor.

When I read this first excerpt, I was hooked:
...resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher.  It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically or spiritually.

This book is broken down into three sections.  The first covers the concept of resistance.  I think this was the most beneficial part of the book for me.  As someone who believes in creating everyday --"It's not the writing part that's hard.  What's hard is sitting down to write.  What keeps us from sitting down is resistance"--, one would think that I am less susceptible to resistance.  But resistance is sneaky and, according to this book, assisted me in identifying what happens when I start to lose faith in my creative process: "The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it."

The second part of this book makes an effort to differentiate between the amateur creative and the professional: "The professional is patient...he eliminates chaos...(and has) tremendous strength of character...He reminds himself it's better to be in the arena with the bulls than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot."

The third part of the book discusses ways of rising above resistance.  This part discusses the true nature of our authentic selves and the inevitable duty we have to live this out.
We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny.  We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become...Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

"The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity which dictates that the battle must be fought anew everyday."  Perhaps this quote assists us in understanding the book's title.  At first this disturbed me.  The terms "warrior" and "battle" are terms I am uncomfortable with.  I am not an aggressive person by nature.  I have a hard enough time mustering up any competitiveness, to tell the truth.  It's difficult for me to bridge something so sacred to me (my work) with these ideas.  But this is something for me to ponder and to find a way to reframe for myself.  Perhaps my battle consists of more self validation in the midst of adversity.  Perhaps if I focussed on this one action, I might be able to take another leap...forward.

By the way, Pressfield's introduction to this book includes What I Know and The Unlived Life.

"Most of us have two lives.  The life we live and the unlived life within us.  Between the two stands resistance."  At least, before this book begins, I feel like I have accomplished something.  I can say that I have "battled" the resistance between these two worlds for over a decade (at least).  It takes constant vigilance.  If you are looking for a way to bridge this gap, I have a few suggestions:

1. Take a small action toward this life within you everyday.  Five minutes a day can make all the difference.  By the way, resistance will tell you five minutes is not enough.
2. Reserve five more minutes a day to give yourself a pep talk.
3. Start creating a support system of people who believe in your process.  Consult with these people regularly.

If you liked the ideas in this post, you may also like It Takes Our Undivided Attention

Read more book reports


  1. thanks for reporting on The War of Art, Kari. I've been wondering about this book..any advice on overcoming resistance sound welcome to me!

    1. Thank you, Linda. I look forward to hearing what you think!

  2. Replies
    1. and I LOVE you (and In the Kitchen, Keepin' It Real) thank you, Ariyele...