In the book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield points out the biggest problem in the artist or creative person’s life is resistance to create. He explains that many people have an inner artist and the muse that helps them with their work even if they are not painters, writers or musicians- art can take many forms.
I will shortly summarize his list:
Pursuit in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any other creative art such as crafting and stitching, anything athletic or good for the body, any program for spiritual attainment, any therapy to get over an addiction, or negative behavior and education of any kind. Political, moral or ethical courage to change unhealthy patterns of thought or discourse in action or conduct in ourselves.
Resistance in a Nutshell
Resistance is anything that gets in the way of the artist’s drive to create. It could be partying, playing video games, anything addicting that takes the artist away from their work, but it can even be codependent in the form of a relationship or group of friends. There are many levels of resistance that keep the artists from their muse, especially in the age of consumerism. With the Internet and social media on our phones, it is so easy to get distracted when advertisers are always trying to get your attention, from mindless television to cellphone games that can be roadblocks to productivity if abused.
My Struggle with Resistance
The reason I picked up Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art was because I heard about him from Joe Rogan’s podcasts. Rogan is a stand-up comedian and when his fellow comedians come on the show and talk about having trouble finding time to write new material he plugs the book. As an aspiring author and a college student, resistance is my worst enemy in achieving my creative and intellectual goals. It seems like a battle I am constantly having with myself.
Resistance is anything that keeps you away from the muse—creative energy—I try to stay away from the television, because a good show or video game can suck me in while giving me a crappie feeling—resistance—in my stomach that is telling me I should be doing something more productive with my time. Being days away from the end of the semester I have had to deal with resistance to my homework, and I can relate to this subject more than ever. The book has helped me get through the busy last few weeks of the semester with a level head. Anxiousness, stress, depression and anxiety are all emotional effects of resistance.
Pressfield says the muse is always there for the artist to access you just have to sit down and get to work. He has a bunch of short chapters explaining the symptoms of resistance, and in the second part, he has ways to combat it. In the third part, we get an existential lesson into the heart of the successful artists and how to cultivate the muse to build a healthy successful relationship with your specific art form and your personal life.