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Waging The WAR of ART: An interview with Steven Pressfield

Mr. Steven Pressfield

Resistance kept whispering in my ear, “Who are you, to write an email to the great author Steven Pressfield? The Pressfield who was made an honorary citizen by the city of Sparta, in Greece.  You are a peon, don’t email him, go and do laundry. Clean the litter box, don’t click send.”  

There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What is hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I battled Resistance and wrote  Mr. Pressfield.  He graciously gave me permission to quote from his book, The War of Art,  and he agreed to be interviewed.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield had been recommended by several authors I respect: Jeff Goins at Goinswriter, Joe Bunting at The Write Practice, and Bryan Hutchinson at Positive Writer.  I thought, “Sure, good idea, it sounds like a good book. But, it can’t be that good; it was published over ten years ago. (Keep reading to find out how you can win a free copy of Mr. Pressfield’s book.)

How foolish of me to assume that only new was worthy.

The sub-title on the cover of The War of Art intrigued me, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

I often feel like I am sitting in the middle of a cement room. No, not in a straitjacket, but in a, “Crap, I can’t seem to write that story or paint that painting, sort of way.”  I want to win my inner creative battles. I want to break the blocks in my cement room and create.

I ordered the book from Amazon and started to read. The best 10 dollars and 98 cents I ever spend was for The War of Art. Don’t buy a latte for three days and buy the book.

Mr. Pressfield asked me to limit the questions I wanted to ask him to three.

I really wanted to know what he ate for breakfast. But, I didn’t want to waste one of my three questions on his choice of breakfast cereal.

1.  What is the most important weapon in your book, The War of Art,  to combat Resistance?

 It’s the attitude of “turning pro.”  The second section of WOA is all about that, and, of course, so is my follow-up to WOA, “Turning Pro.”

2. After you published the book, The War of Art, did you discover another form of Resistance?

 There’s one area that I only touched on lightly in WOA that, over the years, has loomed larger and larger in my conception of (and recognition of) Resistance.  That is the role that other people — particularly people close to us — play in acting as transmitters of, and mouthpieces for, Resistance.  Have you seen the movie “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Kay Adams?  The family dynamic depicted in that movie is a beautiful example of an entire family ganging up on the one member who shows real talent and a real passion to excel.  They all work to sabotage him, playing back to him in their words the very Resistance he is experiencing in his own head.
It’s diabolical, but I’ve seen it in real-life over and over.  The aspiring artist’s loved ones will uncannily know exactly what words-of-Resistance to say to him or her that will screw him or her up the most.  It is as if they have tapped the phone lines into his brain and can hear his own Resistance thoughts.  It’s dark stuff and really gives you a hardball view of humanity.
3. If the making of Art is a War, how do I know when I have won the battle?
You never win.  It’s not about winning.  Pursuing one’s calling or one’s art is a lifelong process.  I expect to collapse over my typewriter and be dragged out of my office feet first.  Resistance never goes away and it never diminishes.  The dragon must be slain anew every morning.  The good news is the process is its own reward.  “Success” or “recognition” or “financial remuneration” are byproducts that for many, many excellent artists never come.  That’s okay.  As Krishna said to Arjuna, “You have a right to your labor, but not to the fruit of your labor.”  Deep stuff.  Sounds daunting when viewed from the superficial get-rich-quick, what’s-in-it-for-me ambitious-and-impatient American point of view, but when you really understand it, it’s totally liberating and empowering.
After reading Mr. Pressfields answers to my questions, I am an armed soldier prepared to do battle with Resistance.
I have a plan.

1. Read Turning Pro.
2. Be wary of Resistance from family and friends.
3. I will not put down my weapons. I will fight the battle every day.

I will be giving away three copies of the book ,The War of Art. This is what I want you to do for a chance to win.
1. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and answer the question below.
2. Please share my post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter, call your mother, tell your cousin.
3. In 24 hours I will use a Random Number Generator to see who gets to read an amazing book. If you already have the book, maybe your mother would like to read it.
 Are you ready to wage WAR on ART?  What form of Resistance are you fighting?

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links.

 AND THE WINNERS OF THE THREE BOOKS ARE:

Wait a minute!  Before I tell you who won the books, I have to tell you something. I had planned on paying  for the books out of my personal checking account. Mr. Pressfield, the Steven Pressfield,  is sending you his book. He graciously offered to donate the books and mail them to the three winners.  Isn’t he nice?

1. Janelle Ross. She writes at My Men and Me and lives in Canada. The last I heard, her goats had eight babies.
2. May. She muses, at May’s Musings. She also lives in Canada. She likes Red River cereal.
3. Bryan Hutchinson. He writes positively at Positive Writer. He inspires, encourages and motivates his readers.

 

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

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  • It was great to see this interview Pamela.

  • I loved so much about this interview. My favorite piece had to be about slaying the dragon every day. It’s too easy to win a few battles and then give in.

    • pamelahodges

      Yes, slay the dragon every day. Don’t put down your sword, or close your laptop. Hope every day. Or Sometimes hope. 🙂

  • Love it–check out this video–that I just found 2 days ago–weird how we are all on “Common Ground”–be blessed. You are awesome.

    • pamelahodges

      Great video Renee! Thank you for sharing.

  • Wonderful piece! I am definitely ready to Wage War! I’m a poet, so I have to do that everyday, haha. I don’t write everyday, but part of thinks I should. My Resistance with my poetry and with me wanting to serve the Kingdom of God is usually my family and friends for sure. I was just with my best friend in West Virginia and he was getting on my case about my decision to go to South Korea and teach English…grrr…sometimes it’s infuriating.

    Thanks for pressing that send button!

    • pamelahodges

      Hello AJ, so nice of you to by. Live your dreams, and slay the dragon. Write, and write and write some more.
      You are very welcome. I am glad I hit the send button too.

  • Great interview! Awesome advice. I face resistance everyday, and I see by this post that I am in good company. 🙂 The resistance I face is sending the finished work on. Submitting it. Resistance tells me that there are so many other contributors, much better than I, don’t bother. I have begun to wage war, I’m submitting more despite the negative voices. It’s like shoving my child out of the nest everytime, but it’s getting easier. Thanks for sharing this. I’m off to tell my Twitter friends. 🙂

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Pamela. I love your name 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the interview.
      Keep fighting the dragon, and throw your child out of the nest.
      There will always be other writers, but, there is only one you.

  • Are you ready to wage WAR on ART? What form of Resistance are you fighting?

    Yes, I believe I am in the WAR, but at times I get weary.

    The form of Resistance I am fighting is the inner voices. I will get a button triggered and instead of being able to fight them off I crumple up. And yet, I get up and try again.

    Wonderful post Pamela. You were a pro.

    I could have sworn one of your resistances was Pooh, but dont’ let Pooh hear that.

    Going to share right now.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Anne, thank you for your encouragement.
      Keep fighting those inner voices, your words bring so much healing and hope to others.
      Poor Pooh, he didn’t even get to write today.
      Thank you for sharing.

  • I read the War of Art over 8 times in one year. It kicked my ass left and right. At the time, I was lost and trying to find my footing in life, and somehow I landed on that book. That book transformed me and helped me get my life back together.

    Turning Pro, Do the Work, and The War of Art are like my bibles. They helped me become the writer (and person) I am today.

    Butt-in-chair has always been my most effective method for transferring thoughts into words onto paper.

    • pamelahodges

      Paul thank you for sharing how the book transformed your life. I want to read the other books you mentioned. Just started to read, “Turning Pro.”
      Butt-in-chair, I like that method.
      I read your latest post on your blog. Keep sitting down.

  • Sonny

    If I don’t win the book, I will purchase it shortly after this drawing. I never named the reasons for not writing, despite the great desire to write. Resistance is in the form of family and self-doubt. How easy now to fight the enemy by calling it Resistance. I’ve gathered by shield and sword and ready for battle. Thanks for this insightful post.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Sonny, I am delighted you found out the name of your enemy in this article. Now you are armed for battle against Resistance. Will you start writing today?

  • Pamela, congrats!! You go girl – er, kitten! You continue to amaze me. My biggest resistance is… oh, there’s a mouse… gotta go!

    Thanks for sharing with us, Pamela.
    Bryan

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Bryan, thank you for your encouragement. Resistance is a mouse. Maybe you need an elephant in the room with you when you write. Or a cat.
      Your are welcome.
      Pamela

  • War of Art saved my life. I feel sorry for anyone who never gets their hands on this book.
    -Derek

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Derek. What form of Resistance were you fighting? That is cool that the book saved your life. Must have been a Big Bad Resistance you were up against. All the best, Pamela.

  • Nanc

    I have to get it! The answer to question 3 was simply amazing. I also enjoyed hearing your plan. xo

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Nanc, I am glad you enjoyed the article. Mr. Pressfield gave some very thoughtful answers. Now that we know who the enemy is, we can win the battle.

  • Sounds like a good read (as does Do the Work that Stacy mentions). I like that he says you have to slay that dragon (resistance) everyday–that it never fully goes away. Thanks for sharing the title.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Lee Ann, thank you for commenting. Yes, the daily slaying of the dragon. It helps to know it is a constant battle, a sort of life style of fighting, to create.

  • I am so proud of you! Way to put one foot in front of the other in this writing walk. I’d love to enter

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Christa, Thank you so much. Yes, one foot in front of the other. Not backwards, but forward. Consider yourself entered.

  • Ok, I totally must read this book. What a great interview! I love the thought you put into your questions — that’s a lot of pressure to only get 3. 🙂 I think the Resistance I fight right now is in some form of myself. Sitting down and writing, even when there’s so much other stuff to block out. False mommy guilt that keeps me second-guessing the work I do, wondering if I’m ignoring my kids too much when I have a lot of writing to do. There’s other Resistance, too. But those are my top two right now. Thanks for the post.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Brianna, thank you for reading and commenting. Mr. Pressfield really gave valuable information in his answers. I am glad you liked the article.
      Your Resistance needs to be fed and loved and read to. At least that Resistance goes to bed and sleeps for part of the day. The other form of Resistance just has to listen to you. Sit and write, the dust will be there later.
      And, your welcome.

  • Kathy

    Ah! I may never overcome the resistance in my world, but I’ll make an effort to pass on the great and wonderful writing that I find so very frequently! Enjoyed reading this; would love to have the book!

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Kathy, thank you for sharing. I am glad you enjoyed the article.

  • May

    Hmmm – sounds really interesting. I may have to read this book. I find I’ve always got so many excuses why I shouldn’t write today; and I know they’re not reasons, just excuses.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello May.
      Did you write today? Somewhere inside of you is a story that no one else can write.
      I highly recommend the book. The book gives you the ammunition to fight Resistance.

  • I haven’t read this book yet. You’ve made me want to! Gosh, resistance… sometimes it’s procrastination, which I suppose is rooted in laziness. Sometimes life overwhelms. Sometimes, I wonder if there is anything for me to say that really matters. (insecurity!) And sometimes I think its just lack of momentum. If I don’t do it for a while, its tougher to get started again.

    Great post! I’m off to share it with my friends.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Janelle. Did your goat have her babies today? Maybe it is the goats that keep you from writing.
      Knowing what form Resistance takes helps to fight it. Face insecurity down with a dirty look, and a stern voice, “My words matter, I will sit down and write.”
      I love to read your words written in the bald Saskatchewan Prairie. A touch of home, sharing from the heart.

      • Eight babies so far… Many more to go. 🙂 but I’m still writing. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • What an encouraging post and great interview! I had not heard of this book before, so I’m crossing my fingers to win one. Sounds like just what I need. My Resistance is not family; they are very encouraging and helpful. It is not sitting in the chair; My empty nest and cuddly dog help me do this. My Resistance is plain ole me, no excuses here. I poison my brain. I doubt myself. I compare myself to others. I procrastinate. I do other things. Occasionally, though, the creative urge catches me by surprise and things flow. These are magical, mystical times. Just wish they came more often.

    • pamelahodges

      Yes, sometimes we are our own worst enemies; the self doubts start to poison our brains.
      Have you read this quote on writing? “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 am every morning.” – Peter DeVries
      I wonder if you can train your brain. Just sit down and write. I have to get a copy of your book, “Blessen.”

  • Erika Simone

    I’m so glad you shared this. The post is very insightful.

    I battle feeling that my writing is awful and not worth editing. I battle more with procrastination. It is so hard just to make myself sit down in front of that keyboard and put my hands on it!

    But, thanks to Jeff and all the Tribe Writers I’m learning how to use my weapons in this war.

    • pamelahodges

      Erika, stand in front of a mirror, smile at yourself, and say, “I am a writer.” You have words and stories in you that no one else can write. No one else has lived the life you have lived.
      The more you write the easier it gets. Resistance gets weaker every time you sit down to write.
      Now that you know who the enemy is, you can be prepared to battle it every day.

  • Hi Pamela,

    Congratulations for facing your fears! I read Pressfield’s book Do the Work a couple years ago, which I found really inspiring. I think I might pick it up again, I’m sure I’ll find brand new insights now that I’m at a different place in life!

    The biggest form of resistance that I’m battling right now is procrastination. The book that I’m getting close to publishing has been written, had the re-writes, etc. Now I’m making the editing corrections which is my least favorite part of the process. I probably need to find a more efficient way to complete that part of the process. I love to write, the rest I could do without! 😉

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Stacey, thank you for stopping by. I will have to check out Pressfield’s book “Do the Work.”
      How did it go fighting the battle with Procrastination today? I look forward to reading your new book.

  • Anastasia

    This is a great post! You asked good questions.

    My biggest resistance is time. I feel good when I finish writing something really good. However during the process of creating I quite often feel extremely guilty for spending so much time on it. I often worry what people might think. Will the finished product be good enough to warrant my not getting other things done?

    Sometimes our loved ones are unknowingly discouraging us by pointing out all the things left undone without the slightest acknowledgement of the things accomplished.

    Thanks for sharing about this book.

    • pamelahodges

      The other things will eventually get done. Keep writing and battle Resistance. Your writing is always worth the effort.