Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday Review—The War of Art

The War of Art

The War of Art
by Steven Pressfield
A guest blog by Lynn Blackburn

Edie tried to let me off the hook this month. She graciously offered to give me an extra day or two, or even to pull up a review from the archives.

As much as I appreciated her kindness, I said no.

Not because I’m anything special—unless you consider stubbornness to be a positive character trait—but because saying “yes” would have been giving in to Resistance.

You may never have heard it put in terms of Resistance, but if you feel called to create anything—a healthier lifestyle, novels, art, music, a new business or ministry—then you have experienced Resistance.
In the War of Art, Steven Pressfield defines Resistance this way . . .  
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt…It’s a repelling force…Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

In Part 1, brief chapters (and I do mean brief—some are less than 1/2 a page) are devoted to the many ways Resistance seeks to defeat us. Here are a few…procrastination (I’ll do it later), playing the victim (my kids were up all night and I’m so tired) and self-doubt (I’ll never be good enough). If you don’t have problems with those things (and if you don’t then I’d like to find out how you do it) I’m sure he’s got at least one or ten that you’ll find applicable.

Resistance puts up a good fight, but in Part 2 he details how we defeat Resistance.

We turn pro.
This doesn’t mean we quit our day job. This means we approach our art as professionals.
Amateurs work when they have the opportunity. Pros show up every day. Amateurs piddle around. Pros finish what they start.

The decision to turn pro requires an act of the will. But even if you turn pro, Resistance will continue to seek to thwart you.

In Part 3, Pressfield talks a lot about angels and muses as he details calling on a “higher realm” to assist us.
As a believer, I agree that there is a higher realm. But rather than praying to “the Muse” I pray to my Heavenly Father for wisdom, creativity, and the discipline to put my butt in the chair and write.
While there were parts of the final chapters that I couldn’t reconcile to my belief system, and while I would not characterize this as a Christian book (the language is quite colorful throughout), the final page gave me pause. He’s talking about what happens if you choose not to do what you were put on this planet to do, and he says this . . .  ”…you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along on its path back to God.

Resistance is powerful.

But it can be overcome.

And if you believe you’ve been called to write for the kingdom of God, it must be overcome because you have work to do.

The question is, will you do it?

So what about you? Have you “turned pro” and if so, how has your writing changed? 
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.


  1. I printed this one and have it taped onto my computer cabinet. Great "Conversation", thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing this book with me, Lynn! I've heard someone (Edie, I think) talk about it, but haven't looked into it.

    Sounds like something I need!

  3. Wow. What an incredible statement on the final page. It gives me pause also. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lynn, Thank you for resisting the "resistance" and writing this post. Loved, loved it. I copied the final quote and placed it on my computer. Bless you1

  5. Thank you for sharing this post. It has helped me a lot. God bless you.

    Glenda Parker

  6. Thanks, Lynn. God keeps saying the same thing to me, and again from you today. And now I have a word to put to what I must do: RESIST.

  7. I loved this book, and plan to reread it every so often.

  8. Very helpful. Thanks so much...

  9. Good prospective & insight!
    Couln't post on your blog!

  10. "Pros finish what they start." Good motivation for me to work on my manuscript later this evening!