Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art isn’t just a book about defeating procrastination — it’s a book about defeating all the things that prevent us from fulfilling our dreams: procrastination, fear, rationalization, self-doubt. Pressfield calls these dream-killers Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark on a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
The War of Art is a strange book.
It’s divided into three sections, each of which contains a score of bite-sized chapters. The first section is best. It defines Resistance, explains how it keeps us from doing the things we want. The second section explains how to combat Resistance by becoming a “professional” at whatever it is we wish to do. There are some good bits here, too, but the book begins to weaken. The third section — “Beyond Resitance: Higher Realm” — is a blend of Christianity, New Age mysticism, and ancient mythology. It’s a little much for me.
There are a lot of good chunks in The War of Art, though the book stands less well as a whole. If you’re a creative type whose dreams always seem must out of reach, you may find the book worthwhile to own. For everyone else, I’d recommend borrowing it from your public library. It’s worth a read.