By Marcella Allison

ProcrastinationWhen I first read Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, I felt like an alcoholic walking into an AA meeting for the first time.

“Hello, my name is Marcella and I’m a chronic procrastinator.”

I can, as the joke goes, procrastinate even thinking about procrastinating!

But procrastinating is just the beginning. In The War of Art, Pressfield names every self-defeating, self-destructive, self-sabotaging behavior we writers engage in. And he calls all of these behaviors Resistance.
Resistance is like a force field around what you want. The closer you get to your goals, the more it repels you. If you’ve always dreamed of being a writer, or a photographer, or a musician, or engaging in any type of creative endeavor whatsoever, then I can practically guarantee you’re going to meet with Resistance.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to write a mag-a-log by one of the biggest direct-mail companies in the industry. It was a huge opportunity, one of the biggest breaks of my career. I was scared senseless…  

So what did I do? I read novels. I did the laundry. I answered emails. I organized my kitchen cabinets. In short, I did everything BUT sit down and write.  Eventually, the absolute terror of embarrassing myself by not turning anything in finally forced me to the page. Thanks to a case of Red Bull and some help from my brilliant mentor, I managed to cram six weeks of work into three and still turn in a decent package. (Note: Kids, do not try this at home!)

The truth is every one of us, no matter how accomplished, must face down Resistance every day. You can think of it in psychological terms as the ego trying to protect itself from failure. Or you can think of it as a malevolent force in the universe like some kind of Darth Vader out to destroy creativity. Either way, I promise you that once you commit yourself to fully living your dream… Resistance is going to show up like a bad houseguest, drink all the beer in your fridge, track dirt on your carpet, trash the bathroom, and ignore all your hints to leave.

As Pressfield writes, “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. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

The problem is, while there are dozens of courses out there to teach you how to write better copy, how to get more clients, and how to earn more money with your craft… there are very few people who can teach you how to overcome Resistance. Thankfully, Pressfield is one of them!

In Book One of The War of Art, you’ll learn to recognize your enemy so you can defeat him. Pressfield names all the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that your mind and body try to trip you up and rob you of your dreams. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself cringing as you recognize every self-defeating behavior you’ve ever engaged in. Dante’s seventh circle of hell has nothing on writer’s block!

But Pressfield does more than just name the enemy. He goes on to tell you how you can defeat it in Book Two by “turning pro.” Turning pro is about how to show up at the page every day and do the work. It’s about butts in chairs. It’s about how you can get out of your own way and actually get the work done. It’s like the Red Cross showing up with hot coffee, warm blankets, and chocolate chip cookies after you’ve lost everything in the tornado of your own self-destruction.

Because there’s another secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t. And it’s this:   When you sit down each day and actually do the work, good things happen. You ‘invoke the gods.’ Suddenly you’re swimming in ideas, insights, and breakthroughs.

Because writing is more than just craft, it’s also talent. In Book Three, Pressfield talks about that most elusive of drugs, divine inspiration. He gives you little tips and tricks you can use to coax the muse to sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear.

So if you dream of becoming a writer, artist, or photographer… if you aspire to any type of creative life, then take note of Pressfield’s advice. No matter how accomplished you are, no matter how many successes you’ve had … no matter, even, how new you are to the Barefoot Writer’s life … you’ve still got to take action every day. Sit in your chair and meet the blank screen head on.

Like Pressfield says, divine inspiration will step in to replace hesitation. From there, your creative path will take shape and become easier to travel every day.