(Edited to add: here is Part 2 of our discussion).
Welcome to the Read Along of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield! Today we’re discussing the introductory material and Book One. This is a slim book and we have the whole month. It’s not too late to join us! Let me know in the comments or sign up at the announcement post.
(Edited to add: don’t miss this afternoon’s announcement of a Twitter chat on February 1 and a giveaway right now)
If you’re joining in the discussion on your blog, don’t forget to leave a link in the link-up at the bottom of the post so we can all see your thoughts.
I sent the five questions below to every one who I knew wanted to participate earlier this week. Here are my answers:
1. What did you think about the Foreword by Robert McKee?
I was surprised and somewhat perplexed that Robert McKee chose to argue with one of the author’s points from Book Three in the Foreword. Although, I’ll admit that it made me curious to get to Book Three to see what all the fuss is about.
2. Three short essays form an introduction before Book One. What did you think of them?
Reading Pressfield’s description of his lucky charms and his process for getting down to work, I realized that I might want to take the idea of a pre-writing ritual a bit more seriously. I tend to think such things are a waste of time, but that might just be my Resistance speaking. I bought a scented candle to inspire my thoughts.
3. The first piece in Book One is Resistance’s Greatest Hits — a list of “activities that most commonly elicit Resistance.” Which of these activities do you hope to engage in during 2015? Are you feeling Resistance regarding them?
In 2015, I hope to tackle a big writing project (Activity 1) and overcome overeating to improve my diet and health (Activities 3 and 5). I’ve got some Resistance to those but, right now, New Year energy is carrying me through.
As a St. Louis County resident who read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander a couple of years ago, I feel called to work for changes that make the American justice system more equitable. That sort of effort is covered by Activities 8, 9, and 11 — all of which seem big and scary to me.
4. The first part of Book One (through page 20) considers the characteristics of Resistance. Do these sound familiar to you? Did any aspect strike you as particularly relevant to you at this time?
That Resistance never sleeps and plays for keeps feels familiar. Every time I think I’ve got this figured out, it turns out that tomorrow is a new game with new rules.
Two characteristics actually made me feel better about Resistance. The first is that it’s impersonal. It feels personal, but it will be easier to combat if I know it isn’t. The second is that it’s universal — it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in having to battle Resistance to do the things I claim I want to do.
5. The rest of Book One covers the symptoms of Resistance. Did any surprise you? Which ones rang particularly true for you?
I was surprised that seeking support can be a form of resistance:
Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business. p. 51
Curmudgeonly? Or, true? I suspect, both. My life has one counter-example: a twice-weekly virtual writing date with a writer who is more dedicated and experienced than I am. But, pretty much everything else I’ve tried that was meant to provide writing support was heavy on the support, light on the writing.
We’re ten days into the New Year. Are you encountering Resistance to any of the projects or goals you had slated for 2015?