creating requires doing [the war of art]

November 11, 2009 | 1 Comment

This post is the first in what will probably maybe hopefully be a series of reflections on The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

The War of Art is subtitled Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. That is something that author Steven Pressfield apparently knows a little about. He was writing for 17 years before he earned his first paycheck from writing.

It is a fantastic little book that looks simple to read, but stirs you up a great deal. Often, I hardly knew when to quit underlining. As a result, I have collected a number of great quotes and gathered them around common themes. Most of the post in this series will be a few thoughts around some of these quotes.

Yesterday, I needed to knock out a 2000 word manuscript, so I turned off everything until I was finished. Afterward, I reflected on twitter…maybe you can relate:

This is a prominent theme in The War of Art: to create something you have to actually do it. And the first do is the hardest do. It’s easy to plan and dream and organize in order to avoid doing. But nothing gets created until you get to work and do it. The best way to get past a block is to create something…even if it’s horrible.

Some of Pressfield’s words on the topic:

“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’s hard is sitting down to write.”

“Do you understand? I hadn’t written anything good. It might be years before I would, if I ever did at all. That didn’t matter. What counted was that I had, after years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.”

“I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.”

I will leave you with my favorite. The day after he finished writing his first book, he went to tell the one person who had been encouraging him in his writing:

Next morning I went over to Paul’s for coffee and told him I had finished. “Good for you,” he said without looking up. “Start the next one today.”

  • Tom

    I read that book a while ago and it truly is full of gems of wisdom. The one quote that I can relate to is the first one in your article. Once I’m writing the words usually flow easily. Same with doing any kind of paperwork, web design, programming etc. The hard part really is sitting down. Once you have your butt firmly planted and you’re hacking away, things get easier.

    One little trick I sometimes like to employ to get myself to do something specific is to simply look at it. Say you have some notes on an article you want to write. Just open up the notes and look at them, without the intention of actually starting to write anything.

    A funny thing might happen: You look at your notes, that triggers some new idea or a start for a paragraph. Before you know it you’re writing.

    Doesn’t work every time, but more often than not 😉