Vive La Resistance

tank2A number of years ago, my dear friend Megan Moore,  a gifted, courageous artist whose unflinching portraits bring to mind Van Gogh and Rembrandt, gave me a book. This book changed my attitude toward writing and any form of creative endeavor. It’s called The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

I recently dusted off my paperback copy because I was having trouble getting back into the novel I’m working on. (I took off two weeks over the holidays.)

Writing is like exercise for me–skip a few days and getting back into the groove feels impossible. The muscles are tight, the mind unwilling.

The War of Art could have just as easily been titled The Enemy Within. Pressfield, a bestselling author whose fiction books  include The Afghan Campaign and The Virtues of War, pulls no punches. Resistance (yes, a capital R) is out to get us.  It’s why so many people don’t adequately answer their “calling,” why books don’t get written, foundations don’t get founded, dream houses remain unbuilt, ideas for screenplays never see the light of the page.

Resistance is a real and unrelenting force. And if we let it, it will destroy us, or at minimum, prevent us from living fully.  The good news according to Pressfield is Resistance is directly proportional to love. “The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you–and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.”

It took me ten years to write my first book–if I’m honest,probably longer. There are lots of “reasons” for this. I started a business, had a baby, underwent psycho therapy, etc.  Life stuff.

Truth is, I was constantly battling resistance. Every frickin’ time I’d even think about writing, I’d tighten up inside; fearful I couldn’t complete the book who did I think I was what would THEY think, who said I could write anyway. Blah, blah, blah.  Out of sheer stubborness and some grace, I  persisted  and the novel was published. 

Silly me. I thought I’d won the war against Resistance. It’s still with me, always will be I suspect. I just keep putting my ass in the chair and writing.  Occassionally, I read a page from The War of Art to remind me there’s only one weapon against Resistance: Action.

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4 Comments »

  1. Jon Leland said

    Amazing. This is a favorite book of mine too.

    But did you not know that Pressfield also wrote “The Legend of Bagger Vance”? It’s one of the best spiritual sports books ever (forget the Hollywoodized movie that didn’t do the book justice.) Bagger Vance is actually based on the Indian classic, The Bhagavad Gita.

    Anyway, Pressfield rocks. Resistance sucks. Viva soul-sourced creativity! 🙂

  2. lwdoyle said

    I’ll add The Legend of Baggar Vance to my reading list. I had no idea it’s based on the Bhagavadita!

  3. Chelsea Callicott said

    Great piece and perfectly timed, as I resist taking some time for my self on a beautiful Sunday morning. Resistance makes us think that what we are doing instead of the thing we are resisting, is more important. The dust will wait, putting Christmas away can happen later, even email responses will be there later, but the gift of s sunny bright morning, the call of my body for a long walk and time to myself, will not.
    What else am I resisting that is waiting to be born?

  4. lwdoyle said

    I spent six hours cleaning today :-). Go figure.

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