How many times have you wanted to write, but just couldn’t get anything out? How many times have you procrastinated, coming up with some seemingly valid excuse to avoid writing?
We’ve all been there. The challenge is getting out of our funk. The solution is simple: action. The book that taught me how to take action as a writer was “The War of Art.” Let’s skim over a handful of my favorite quotes from Steven Pressfield’s epic kick-in-the-arse.
“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”
I did a survey a couple months ago with my indie publishing readers where the main question was “What do you want to learn more about?” Overwhelmingly, the number one response was that they wanted to learn how to find time to write.
That surprised me. I thought they’d want to know the ins and outs of self-publishing or read more interviews with successful authors.
Nope. Almost every person wanted to learn how to sit down and write.
“…fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
You might’ve had a great writing session yesterday, but today is a new day. Yesterday you were focused, today you’re distracted.
Writing ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s like a fire hose, others it’s like a clogged toilet.
As writers, every day is a struggle. We must win the individual battles in order to win the war. Let up and you’re staring down the barrel of defeat.
“The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.”
This one’s so true it’s scary. How many writers do you know that have an “almost finished” novel?
Imagine being so close to the finale of your book that you can taste the last page. You know how the ending goes. You know how you’ll feel when you finish. The main character’s shocked expression is tingling on your fingertips.
That’s not the time to let up. It’s like being the first place runner in a marathon and then pulling back when the banners and the screaming crowd are in sight. In a fraction of a second you’ve lost all the momentum you’ve worked for. Your legs get wobbly. You notice the sandpaper feel in your mouth. You stumble. You fall.
You have to keep pushing. Don’t let up until it’s done.
“The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch.”
If you don’t feel challenged as a writer, you’re probably doing something wrong. I deal with fear and insecurity constantly. More than once a day I wish I had the talent of Austen, Grisham or Shakespeare. I hate that I don’t know everything.
If the work didn’t challenge us we’d soon be bored to sleep. That’s not what art is about. Art is about challenging ourselves and others, but it takes a series of uncomfortable stretches to get there.
Scratching The Surface
I didn’t even come close to summarizing a sliver of Pressfield’s book. I probably wouldn’t do it justice.
If you haven’t read the book, consider reading it. Get it HERE. It was a game-changer for me and it hopefully will be for you.
What’s stopping you from winning the war of art?
For the next fifteen minutes, write about a character who wins the war of art. Tell us what they’re thinking, how they feel, how they celebrate.
Post your practice in the comments section below and please provide feedback for your peers.