Title: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles Author: Steven Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance Author’s Website: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/ Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2002 ISBN: 0-446-69143-7 Available from Amazon.com.
I heard about this book in a blog post and decided it might be just what I needed. Lately I’ve been struggling to get the butt in the chair and actually write. I hate to use the dreaded words writer’s block, but getting through my previous WIP was like pulling teeth, one millimeter at a time. (Well, it wasn’t that painful, but you get the point.)
When I started to read, I was surprised to see that the Foreword was written by screen writing guru, Robert McKee, one of the last people I’d have expected to struggle with writer’s block. Somehow that alone was comforting to me.
The War of Art is divided into three sections. In the first he explores what keeps us from writing which he calls Resistance. Some of us think of it as the “little editor in our head”, that little voice that says, “Why bother? You’re not any good.” Or “You have better things to do.” Or it’s the impulse that compels us to clean out our closets before sitting down to write. Resistance is, according to Pressfield, both persistent and omnipresent. The only way to beat it is to become a Pro.
In part two, he talks about how to behave like a Pro. As our recent speaker, Bob Mayer, said , “apply the butt glue”. I know, easier said than done, but necessary nevertheless. Pressfield believes that the act of sitting down to work triggers progress:
“…one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance…”
In part three, he talks about inspiration and meditation and other tricks to help trigger your muse. I chuckled when he talked about all of the lucky charms he keeps in his work area. I don’t have any lucky objects, but I did copy the prayer to the muse he always recites before starting to work. It comes from the opening of T. E. Lawrence’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey. I re-worded it a bit to:
“Divine Muse, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song of love.* Make this tale live for us in all its many dimensions, O Muse.”
* In this area you can add more specific information about your book, or if you’re not writing romance, change it to song of mystery or whatever genre you write in.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block or just looking for a little inspiration, I recommend this book to you. It helped me finish my story.
Linda McLaughlin writes erotic romance for Amber Quill Press as Lyndi Lamont. Her next release will be Alliance: Cosmic Scandal, coming on June 29.