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Interview with Steven Pressfield, Author of “The War of Art”

How this interview came to be.

I first became aware of the existence of The War of Art while listening to an Accidental Creative podcast in which Todd Henry, the moderator, said it was one of the best books he had ever read about keeping creatively juicy.  I bought it, read it, and freaked.

It’s not that I never knew Resistance was my biggest problem as a writer, I did. But here, in one short, concise, to-the-point, no-bullshit book was my diagnosis, complete with remedies.

This was gold.  This was money.  This, for me, was the Instruction Manual for Vanquishing The Bête Noire.

So I started “sneezing” about it all over the place: to my yoga students, on Facebook, on Twitter. I blogged about it.  I left comments on Pressfield’s website. I bought multiple copies and handed them out to people I knew would love it.  I placed copies next to all the lounge chairs in my yoga studio’s lounge.

Pressfield’s publicist contacted me. She told me Pressfield works with bloggers, grants them 3 questions that they could then post on their blog.

(How cool is that?)

So now all I had to do was think up three questions.

(Fail.)

It felt like the genie had come out of the bottle and granted me three wishes.  I felt instant anxiety.   I felt I needed to think up The Perfect Questions.

(Resistance reared its ugly head.)

I dithered.  I boinked.  I solicited help from my readers.  None came through for me (don’t worry, I forgive you).  This was clearly MY gig.

Finally, I just sat down and looked resistance in the eye, and went through it.  I came up with three questions.  Perfect?  Prolly not, but who the hell cares?  He answered them.  (Win!)

So here it is.  The Interview with Steven Pressfield.  He’s awesome.  I especially loved his answer to my third question.

(You rock, Steven.  Thanks!  And you are hard-core, dude.)

Kath: I really resonated with your analogy to fighting “the war” on Resistance.  And while I do believe I am becoming a better warrior (i.e. I am getting better at recognizing resistance and then just hunkering down and facing it), there are definitely times when I do not feel at all “equipped” for the fight. Do you ever feel “war weary?”  How do you “train”?  Do you now, after all this time, feel strong?  Is resistance still a big fight for you?

Steven Pressfield: Really good question, Kathleen.  I do feel “war weary” sometime.  Have you ever heard of Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach?  He has a really interesting model for time management.  I’m not sure this applies to everybody but it’s kind of a cool idea.  He suggests thinking of ourselves as entertainers or athletes—and managing our time the way they do.  Athletes have an off-season.  Entertainers work in blitzes; they’ll train, they’ll do their show, they’ll rest.  It’s okay, I think, to be war-weary sometimes, and it’s okay to knock off and recharge.

As for “training,” yes, I do.  Like you, I do physical stuff.  The gym.  Running.  My friend Randall Wallace (who wrote Braveheart) has a routine that his girlfriend Elizabeth calls “little successes.”  I do that too.  If I can start they day by overcoming more modest forms of Resistance (like not wanting to go to the gym), I can get a little momentum going and that makes it easier when I actually sit down to do the Real Work.  Little successes.  It’s good.

And yes, after all this time, Resistance is still just as powerful and still has to be beaten anew every day.  I don’t feel “strong.”  But I do have more successful time put in, defeating Resistance, so I’m more confident that I can do it.  But no, it never gets any easier, at least not for me.

Kath: For me, writing and exercise are two big areas where I confront resistance daily.  I know you advocate making your strongest resistance your primary focus, but when there are multiple resistances, how do you choose? There are just so many battles I can fight in a day!

Steven Pressfield: I guess I just answered that in #1.  The way I look at it sometimes is, How am I gonna feel at the end of the day?  If I drop the ball on four out of five things that are putting up Resistance, I’ll feel better when the day’s over if I’ve at least overcome the Biggest Resistance.  If I don’t, I feel lousy at the end of the day.

Kath: When I need motivation and inspiration to hang in there, I re-read parts of The War of Art.  I find it immensely inspiring and supportive.  I am wondering who you read for inspiration and support?  Who or what motivates you, who keeps you going?

Steven Pressfield: Sometimes I read The War of Art too!  I say, “Man, that dude is hard-core!”  Seriously, one thing that inspires me is friends who really ARE doing great work and really ARE following their own deepest calling.  They don’t even have to be friends.  One way I judge a great movie or book or album is, after I see it, I go out fired up to do my own work.  I feel a little shame.  “They’re doing it, I better do it too.”

Author:

I’m a small town yoga teacher who says motherfucker a lot. I hate anything woo. I’m into neuroscience. And facts. I’ll lead the chanting of “om” sometimes, but it makes me feel awkward. I want to access flow states. As far as yoga helps me do that, I’m into it. Dopamine is my fave neurotransmitter. Don’t tell anyone I told you this.

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