Even though I’ve been aware of Steven Pressfield for a fair few years, it’s only in the past few months that I decided to treat myself to his books. And when I say ‘treat’, I literally mean his books are a treat to read.
What made me go for it was watching his interview with Marie Forleo back in February this year.
Mentally, I wasn’t in a very good place, still getting over the shock of suddenly losing one of our cats and dealing with unexpected spanners in the works concerning my job application. My writing had come to a halt and I was seriously considering ditching it completely.
Listening to Mr. Pressfield talk about his writing career and the many ‘downs’ he’d experienced in his life gave me hope. Even though money was tight, I decided I’d get two of his books, ‘The War of Art’ and ‘Turning Pro’.
Since then, I bought two more – ‘Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t’ and ‘The Artist’s Journey’.
What I like about his books is the way the content is presented – easily readable, bite-sized chunks that don’t take too much time to get through. Having said that, I still took my time with the books because there’s so much digest. And, for me, so much of it was stuff that was so obvious, I had countless ‘duh!’ moments.
These books, especially ‘The War of Art’, aren’t necessarily aimed at what society labels, ‘creatives’ – the writers, painters, musicians, dancers… I’m in the camp that believes every single person on the planet is creative, but that’s a post for another day.
These books can be read by anyone who’s facing a problem; who’s trying to start something but can’t; who can’t seem to get past a block… Mr. Pressfield gives a name to the force inside us, which stops us forging ahead with whatever we’ve planned to do, which makes us quit – he calls it ‘Resistance’.
To quote Mr Pressfield from the beginning of ‘The War of Art’:
“Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realised being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”
‘Resistance’ has taken many forms in my life – my ability to procrastinate; self-doubt; lack of discipline; throwing in the towel, to name a few. I don’t know if giving it a name makes it easier to recognise, easier to stand up to. But I’m continuing with my writing. And having fun with it.
One thing I’ve come to realise over the years and the way the first half of this year has played out, I can’t control whatever ‘life’ sends my way. The only thing I can control is me. I can control how I react, how I manage my emotions, how I deal with disappointments, what my expectations are. I can control how hard I’m willing to try, and how patient I’m going to be.
One thing’s for sure – no matter what we set our mind to achieve, it’s going to take time and lots of patience. There’s no room for ‘instant gratification’; we have to acknowledge that we’re in it for the long haul and it’s going to be absolutely worth it.
“We cannot control the level of talent we’ve been given. We have no control over the nature of our gift. What we can control is our self-motivation, our self-discipline, our self-validation, and our self-reinforcement. What we can control is how hard and how smart we work.” ~ Steven Pressfield.