Saturday, November 5, 2011

The War of Art

Are you filled with self-loathing?

Do you feel uncomfortable calling yourself a writer? Or a painter? Or whatever creative activity it is you want to try but you're numb with indecisiveness and paralyzed with fear?

That's my hand up in the air, waving furiously. Yours too?

Then you need to read the book I'm reading. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (author of The Legend of Bagger Vance) is the best, skinniest, smartest smack in the face I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It's like a cuff upside the head. It's like Cher in Moonstruck slapping Nicholas Cage in the face and yelling


I was angsting, as usual, at my writers' group meeting when my friend Dawn suddenly stood up and said, "I have a book you need to read," and she went and fetched The War of Art.

Wow, Dawn, I owe you big, my friend. This was exactly the common sense kick in the arse I so desperately needed.

The point of the book is that we human beings constantly battle Resistance, a soul-sucking internal device that stops us from doing the creative things we were born to do. This tiny tome is not a typical self-help book, which I would loathe. This is just straight talk from someone who knows what he's talking about.

Here's one of my favourite sections, entitled Resistance and Self-Doubt:

"Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), 'Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?' chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death."


  1. I'm going to have to get that book.

  2. Delores, it's really, really good. You'll love it.

  3. Hurry and finish it so I can borrow it next! And congrats on your huge NaNo progress so far. *hug*

  4. I'm inspired by you Cathy.
    But this does seem like a great book to have by the bedside, random page opener to what you most need to read before you go to sleep, the moment you wake up....Prodding ourselves lovingly over the grating...

  5. Thank you Paula! Thank you Linda! (Two of my writer homeys, cute as bugs they are.)

  6. Read it. Loved it. Must remember some of the stronger messages like the one you quote above when things get so horribly mired in "meh."

    Great post!

  7. Thanks, Cathy. I also have "The Art of War for Writers" by Bell...also a good choice. I went right to Pressfield's website. Gotta love one-click ordering on Amazon!

  8. I was thinking, Chris, that I should actually print out a few messages and stick them on the fridge. The fridge is keeper of all important things: hand-drawn pictures by my kids, my 'I lost 10 pounds ribbon from Weight Watchers,' a grocery list, a CSI-rated collection of fingerprints, about a quarter inch of greasy dust on the top and a few inspiring quotes. I loved that story about the spider, by the way. I can't stop thinking about it.

  9. Yes, Jan, one-click ordering is my new favourite thing although my credit card is sagging heavily in the middle. Thanks for the tip on The Art of Writers by Bell - will definitely check it out. And thanks for dropping by!

  10. Hi Cathy. This little book aounds awesome. That's a great quote. With your permission I may use it for the next Insecure Writers Support Group post.


  11. You're so polite, Denise! (Like I asked Mr. Pressfield...) It IS an awesome book. Just what the insecure writers ordered.

  12. Oh Cathy, so great to read you posting about this book, as I just ordered it a couple of weeks ago (it should arrive this week).
    Now I really can't wait to tart reading!!!

  13. Estrella, you are going to LOVE it! I promise!

  14. Guess I'm buying me this book, thank you again! xo

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