You may not have heard of “The War Of Art.” If you haven’t, let me tell you about it.
A couple of them go way beyond good into the realms of the fabulous (that’s a subjective opinion of course, and for the record I’m talking about “Gates of Fire” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance”).
But The War of Art is not a fiction book. It’s a book that was originally intended for fiction writers. And the book is about writer’s block: what it is; how to recognize the symptoms; and how to avoid it.
Only if you go check the marketing for it now, you’ll find that it’s no longer pitched at fiction writers. Now it’s pitched at artists, dancers, entrepreneurs, sportsmen and women…and the lessons in the book are just as applicable for bloggers.
Especially beginner bloggers.
Let’s look at three specific lessons for beginning bloggers from The War Of Art.
Lesson 1: Understanding Resistance
Steven Pressfield has got a name for the enemy. Most people call the enemy Writer’s Block. But not Pressfield.
His name for the enemy is Resistance.
And Pressfield knows that Resistance wears many faces and has a playbook full of different strategies to defeat the unwary.
Here’s the thing though, Resistance can be beaten. If you understand the different forms that it takes, the different masks that it wears, the different plays that it will use to try and get you to back off from writing a blog post today – then you can beat it.
And Pressfield does a great job of identifying those different methods that we all use to avoid writing the next blog post. Because if you put it off for one day, then you might put it off the day after. And the day after that.
One day you’ll wake up and it’s been six months since you posted on your blog. And that blog is gathering virtual dust in some Internet backwater where no visitors ever go. Not even spammers.
In the book that Pressfield paraphrased for the name of his book, Sun Tzu says:
“ If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Pressfield knows the enemy. And he shares that knowledge with us – so that we can know it too. And Pressfield not only gives the enemy a name, but lays out its nature, its strategies and its tactics.
That’s the first great lesson in The War Of Art. The enemy is called Resistance, when we look in the mirror he’s starring right back at us.
Lesson 2: Understanding How To Beat Resistance
Once you know what the enemy is, you can plan to defeat him. And the thing that defeats resistance is this:
Most people who fail have an amateur mindset – and the terms amateur and professional are not defined by money or payment. Here are some of the characteristics of the professional mindset:
- A professional shows up on schedule.
- A professional shows up no matter what.
- A professional stays on the job all day.
- A professional is committed in the long haul.
- The stakes for a professional are high and real.
- A professional accepts remuneration for his work.
- A professional does not over identify with his job.
- A professional masters the techniques of his work.
- A professional receives praise or blame in the real world.
How many blogs are there on the old Interwebz that are got started and then got abandoned? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Or even more?
All those blogs were started by people with the best of intentions. But an amateur mindset. To make sure your blog doesn’t add to the list print out this list and pin it above your desk. And commit to it.
Set yourself a posting schedule – let’s say twice a week to start with. And stick to it religiously. Whether you’re well or you’re sick. When it comes time to post make sure you post.
For beginner bloggers that’s perhaps the greatest lesson from the entire book. Show up on schedule. Show up no matter what. Stay with it until the job is done. And commit to the long haul. Do those things and the other elements of the professional mindset will align themselves behind you over time.
That’s the second great lesson in The War Of Art – if you want to be successful, you need to adapt a professional mindset.
Lesson 3: Finding The Self
Pressfield reveals a secret in the third part of The War Of Art that few writers talk about.
And it’s this: the professional mindset applied over time leads to something magical in your writing. You start to dig deeper into the layers of your Self, and uncover the truths of who you are as a person. And what you believe in.
And that Truth resonates with readers. Because we’re so starved of truth in the 21st century – it’s buried beneath layers of political correctness, corporate speak, propaganda and spin. And when we encounter it, it’s refreshing, it’s positive. It’s energizing. Even if the writer’s viewpoint is polarizing, it’s still vibrant. We may not agree with the ‘writer’s truth,’ but we understand it. And can respect it.
Pressfield talks about it in terms of Angels and Muses and how the professional mindset enlists their aid. I don’t agree with the terms he uses, but I’d stand up as a character witness for him in a Court Of Law and testify on his behalf that the effects he’s talking about are 100% real.
That’s the third great lesson of The War Of Art – the more you write, the more you’ll find out about YOU. Who you are. What you believe. What your truth is. And that truth will be layered into your writing – and your writing will resonate with readers.
The War of Art is only 159 pages long – yet it is as weighty as The Bible.
When you’re blocked, it’s a therapist available 24/7. When you’re lost, it’s a map that leads you to safer ground. When you need inspiration, this book is divine music. When you feel alone – and all writers feel alone – you’ll find solace.
I read this book every year, and take new learning from every read through.
If you’re a beginning blogger, or thinking of starting a blog, this is the first resource that you should check out. It’s currently less than 10 bucks, so it won’t break the bank. Hell, if it were $100 it would STILL be cheap.
Buy it. Read it. Understand Resistance. And adopt the professional mindset.
There’s always room in the blogosphere for unique and original voices. If you apply the lessons of this book to your blogging and your writing, you’ll increase the chances of YOU finding your unique and original voice exponentially.
Do yourself – and us – a favour – buy the damn book so that we can hear your true voice.