The War of Art

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Having come across the title of this book a few times, I decided to pick up a copy on Kindle and have a read, and I have to admit, I am halfway through reading it again, after having stayed up most of the night the first time I read it.

To begin with, the super-short sections and simplicity and brevity of the passages put me off – after all how could such simple paragraphs really be very effective? But when relaying some of the messages to my mum, the deeper messages started to sink in and I had some pretty big insights into my own ways of working, and into my own life and mindset.

The first part of the book is all about Resistance. About what it looks like, what it feels like, and how it stops us from achieving our true potential. Much of the ideas I had seen before, but compiled in this way, made me realise that truly, resistance is the only things that holds us back – it just has many guises. I love the fact that the author is honest about that fact that there is no way to permanently get rid of resistance, but all we can do is to keep going, and not let it win.

The second part of the book is all about the differences between the professional and the amateur. Of course I have read all of the usual comments on professional writers or successful writers being those who write every day, who have a routine, who treat it like a job, etc, and of course, being the creative, sometimes lazy person that I am, I have always ignored such advice. But the way it is presented in the War of Art, made much more sense to me, and changed my perspective entirely. He says that the professional (by which he means someone who makes a living from what they do)  treats their art, their vocation as though it were their job, in that they show up every day, they put in the hours and they don’t over-identify with what they create. I realised then, that when I have a normal job, I of course turn up on time, do my hours and I don’t take it personally when things I do are criticised. So why can I not apply those same abilities in myself to my writing?

I had a lightbulb moment then. I realised that I was programmed to take my work more seriously when I was being paid by the hour, than when I was creating my books. So instead of fighting that, instead of trying to reprogram myself and get rid of my conditioning, I figured – why not just pay myself to write? And not only that, but why not create a contract with myself, outlining the projects I want to do, the amount of hours I need to write per week and how much I will pay myself? Seems a little bit like the kind of playing I used to do as a kid, when I had my own shop or library, and used to stamp the books my friends borrowed, but I think that doing this, even if it is a little bit like playing, will change the way I view my writing completely.

The last part of the book is about the mystical side of creation. About our genius, our muse. It reminded me very much of my favourite TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert which I mentioned in my post of favourite TED talks. I do very much believe that when we create, we are plugged into a source of inspiration outside of ourselves, and I feel very honoured to be able to plug into that source on a regular basis.

Overall, I would recommend this book because I got some amazing insights into my own ways through reading it, and not to be put off by the simplicity of it – it really does have genius within those simple words.

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