The Most Important Book I’ve Read About Creating Art

 In Reading

I’ve recently finished reading the book the War of Art. This is a book I’ve heard Seth Godin refer to in a podcast a while back—Might’ve been the Ted Talk Podcast—as being an important book in his creative process. Written by Steven Pressfield (Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire), he shares an intimate glimpse of the everyday struggle of creating art.

In this book, Pressfield identifies the enemy behind every creative endeavor, known as Resistance. Resistance hates art. Resistance wants us to check our email; to turn on Netflix; to check our phones. Resistance wants us to think that our art will be bad; that there’s a high likely hood of failure.

Before I read this book, I never recognized Resistance. I didn’t know I was a victim. I didn’t really know what it was. Very quickly into the book I empathized with Pressfield’s perspective. I recognized the fear I’ve struggled with. The fear of failure. The fear of creating bad art. The fear of not getting it perfect. I’ve recognized the fear before, but never as the enemy. Always as a flaw of my own character.

It’s simple concept. But it’s also an important concept and a perspective many of us fail to realize. Once you can identify Resistance as the enemy, and not a flaw you are doomed to live with, you can fight back. You can fight back by waking up each and every day with the one mission to defeat it. You defeat Resistance by putting pencil to paper; paint to canvas; fingers to keyboard; notes to a staff. You make this the priority of every day. What is the one thing you can do each day, if nothing else, to win against Resistance?

The reviews on Goodreads are mixed. It seems that the readers that have found themselves struggling with this Resistance had a more positive experience of this book. For those that have no problem with fear or resistance, or maybe those that refuse to admit it, you may find this book to be annoying and slightly repetitive. I know people who can just get shit done. This book isn’t for you. You are beating Resistance. Congrats. Then there are people who might say, “First I need to learn this one skill…” or, “…not until I master this…” or, “It’s just not perfect enough to share yet…”, then you may benefit a great deal from this book.

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