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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

Win a Copy of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

By on August 16, 2010

We have a winner! Congratulations to Tom Lietaert, whose comment was randomly chosen (by numbering all comments [except my own] and using a random number generator). Tom has won the copy of The War of Art. I will be contacting him by email to arrange delivery. Thanks to all who participated!

Recently I reviewed Steven Pressfield‘s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles . Here’s an excerpt from my review:

This is not your typical self-help book. Steven Pressfield kicks ass and takes no prisoners. The title is not just clever, it’s very appropriate. Taking a cue from Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War, Pressfield uses the metaphor of battle throughout. The person who aspires to being creative–to bringing into existence in this world anything which wouldn’t be there without his efforts–is in a continuous war against powerful forces that would defeat that purpose. (Read my War of Art review.)

I have been recommending this book to anyone and everyone who has an ambition to do something great, to create something others will remember and be affected by. Now I want you to have a chance to read it for yourself.

Thanks to the generosity of the author and his publicist (Oettinger Associates ), I have a copy of The War of Art to give away to one of my readers. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below, sharing what is the biggest block to you in the creative process (Contest is now over, but you’re still welcome to leave a comment below!). What sort of resistance do you run into (internally or externally) that keeps you from doing what you really want to do with your life? On Monday, August 23, I will choose one commenter at random to receive the free book. I will contact the winner via the email address connected to the comment.

If you can’t wait, or want to be sure to get a copy, order The War of Art from Amazon

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  • Lee

    I would say that the biggest problem I run into in my creative process is bad timing — when I “have the time” to be creative, nothing comes to mind, but when I’m driving in the car and have nowhere to write things down, ideas flood my mind. (This moot court brief I should be working on would be much closer to finished if I had a dictaphone in my car.)

  • Do you have a smartphone, like an iPhone? There are various apps that let you record your thoughts on the fly.

  • Alastair Roberts

    My biggest problem is that of encouraging and harnessing passion. Sparking my creative processes usually requires the intrusion of something into my settled existence – an imminent deadline, a stimulating new acquaintance, a powerful event in my life, etc. However, the creative passion inspired by such things is fairly transitory and dissipates quickly, if I do not find some way in which to render it part of my regular life. It is establishing a continual state of fruitful unsettledness that is my greatest challenge when it comes to creativity.

  • Alastair, This is something Pressfield’s book directly addresses. By treating his writing like a job (and being aware of all the powers of Resistance working against him), he forces that “state of fruitful unsettledness” every day.

  • My fatal flaw is compulsive responsibility-taking. I tend to assume that, having identified a problem or potential problem, it must go on my list. I need to rechannel the energy being directed towards risk management and use it creatively. I write. I want to do more writing. I have 2-3 good ideas languishing, and feel guilt about not giving them the attention I’d like to give.

  • I’ve had little trouble with the usual resistances to writing over the years. Long gaps between work on projects — simmering pot not necessarily on a back burner but temperature set to Low. Occasionally something would bubble up. Time is handled by getting the heck up early. Real life must be allowed to interfere at times or the covenant with the progeny to put out three meals (No more, no less. Dessert is optional.) is broken. Rewards have not come, but that discouragement has proved to be merely suppressing fire rather than a nuke. Does anyone really ever give up? Social networks now seem to be a bit of a drain. A new form of resistance! But nothing that can’t be overcome, and some work has been done.

    Drilling down this morning in response to this topic then I believe resistance these days is a matter of “Is this actually the thing to be doing?” Ability to write, and life-long encouragement to write and a hereditary tradition (father was a writer) of writing does not mean a writer you should be. Writing itself might be resistance to something else!

    What else then? Well there are also lifelong interests in: film, history, economics, film history, economic history and the economics of film. Perhaps if I sit down to work on some combination of those the minor muse of Films on Economic History will come. What might her name be? Friedmania?!

    BTW: On a road trip in June spouse and I listened to the book-on-disk of WAR OF ART. Enjoyed it so much we listened to it all again on the way back too. Hopefully this doesn’t disqualify us from the raffle. 😉

    Highly recommended.

    Bill S.


  • Websterlake72

    5 years ago I underwent chemotherapy, and although I’m doing quite well, my brain was scattered so I have a very short attention span and tire easily. I try to keep busy with many different activities but sometimes miss my ‘old brain’. Maybe I need a spot with a view of an ocean where I can write……Ginger G.

  • John Holzman

    My biggest problem is not being able to just open up. I’ve just had a couple good art classes that were able to help.

  • Ronda

    Fear and negativity. I just finished the first draft of my first book and it took me way too long. For me, sitting down to write is definitely the hardest part. Second, is after I’ve had a couple of good writing days, keeping it going when life turns up to stop the flow. I’ve never found a good balance with writing and life. I’m all or nothing.

  • Thanks for the comments so far! The War of Art deals with both the “enemy” of your achieving your dreams (the forces of Resistance) and the positive attitudes and habits you need to develop (Professionalism) to do battle with Resistance. To arms! To arms! Creative types!

  • Tom Lietaert

    I create transformational programs. My resistance shows up as distractions–doing all of the little things, giving them importance or relevance to justify avoiding the real work of connecting with people to make the events a reality. The resistance is little about self worth or inadequacy, which loomed large when i was young, but rather is about the discomfort of stepping into unknown territory. I know that I have something profound to offer, yet feel like I’m stuck “on hold”.

  • Anonymous

    My biggest block is reading blogs like this one.

  • I’m the same as Lee – I have great monologues with myself, develop storylines, scope concepts etc while driving but the essence is always lost when I try to recreate in front of the PC – don’t havea dictaphone but that is a great idea about using a phone – which i do have and with more features that I ever thought I’d use…great idea and will test it out on my way home tomorrow…then I just need to type faster to get it all into a workable format…thanks for the idea

  • Schoch Karen

    I think the thing that blocks me the most is being emotionally drained. I have a studio to go to and I have dedicated time set aside to work there. I am exhausted mentally by conflicts so I don’t even go to the studio. Instead I do all the other little busy work things seeking that sense of accomplishment – paying bills, sorting, organizing, etc. I know I should just go and start, but I make a choice to not go because my mind is tired.

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  • Gingofny

    I think managing the care for my husband Bill is a big part of it. But not to blame Mr. Bill or Mr. Resistance, I think the lack of focus toward the future keeps me from forming dreams. Living in crisis mode for several years and visiting hospitals monthly, took a toll. Now that things are stabilized, it is time to set some goals and start dreaming again, to get back to my goal of continuous growth as a writer.

  • Biggest block is inertia. Getting started is difficult each and every day. At least inertia pays me back on the other end by making me want to keep going when I do get started.

    I heartily endorse THE WAR OF ART. I read a few sections before sleep most nights. Although that’s become more difficult since my rescue collie went through her Horizontal Paper stage (vertical paper products were fine, but anything left horizontal was in danger.) On some pages I guess at the end of chewed on sentences.

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  • Brandon and I have just this afternoon been discussing my current WIP. My battle with this project, just like the projects that have gone before, is overcoming my need to “do it right the first time.” I want to do all my research, make all the critical decisions, and then start typing the final draft; I don’t want to explore it as I go and end up with all the leftover bits of writing. In general, I do write more as a “stylist,” taking great care with the language from the beginning, rather than just typing away to get it down and then revising it all later, and I continue to see this as a legitimate method. But I also have to be willing to “waste” words if necessary, whether that is writing a 20-page synopsis no one else will ever read but helps me decide chapter breaks, or keeping meticulous footnotes that the publisher will probably cut out later but that remind me where I got this info in the first place. I need the motivation to just write and quit worrying about if today’s thousand words will make it into the final text or not.

  • John Dilworth

    I find that the biggest block to my creativity and to doing what I want to do is myself, and my inability to eliminate distractions such as the internet, television and other information sources. I especially find it difficult to focus when my creative tool is the same tool that delivers these same distractions.

  • Cristina

    Procrastination towards getting started, diluting energy by talking about the project far too often and then not having a consistent system which keeps me in the process instead of trying for a home run, without warming up or practicing.

  • We have a winner! Congratulations to Tom Lietaert, whose comment was randomly chosen (by numbering all comments [except my own] and using a random number generator). Tom has won the copy of The War of Art. I will be contacting him by email to arrange delivery. Thanks to all who participated!

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