The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield An oft-like-minded friend, whom I would grace with a link but for his still-quite-under-construction-site, gave me his copy of this book to read. Bequeathed it, I should say. We wrote our names in the front cover, imagining this copy circling the globe, finding other similar artists in need of another perspective on ass-kicking.
Pressfield writes in little vignettes, some barely a paragraph in length, making it perfect train reading or while-the-water's-boiling reading and even, ironically, a perfect trap for the Resistance he writes about to set in. Look, you've already finished six chapters, it will say. So what if you're only 15 pages in? It's a good breaking point. Don't you have some facebook to check?
But shoot, you didn't need me to tell you that. Since you have a body too---- you already knew it.
What I like about his approach is that it is two-fold: first he outlines the life of the Professional, and the myriad habitual ways a Pro battles Resistance just by showing up and fighting another day. Showing up is requisite. But beyond that, he explores the Muse, the angels, the Genius (in the Roman sense) that Elizabeth Gilbert explores in this TED.com talk. (damn! where better to procrastinate than TED.com? it feels so edifying...) The greater Self, the other-worldly (perhaps) energy that flows through us and tells us we are artists in the first place. Professionals show up every day; yogis and surfers let the Spirit flow through them; but the great working artist relies on both.
For me, one of the most cunning ways Resistance gets under my skin is via self-deprecation -- but not the kind you might think. My worst Resistance is the Never Enough kind: I'm never working hard enough, going to enough auditions, singing enough, learning enough new material, keeping up on enough industry news, seeing enough theater. I could be networking more, marketing more, blogging more, being more.
But I'm learning (and The War of Art has done much to remind me) that these thoughts are best fought by just showing up, every day, and doing even One Thing. A warm-up, an audition, a website update, a submission, an email. And then, I (am learning to) put it away, and let myself be a person.
Last night, I went to class and busted out a new song; today I woke up before the alarm and wrote this blog post before coffee. Have I changed the world, or even changed myself? Probably not. But for now (and even now, that "now" is gone) -- it's enough.