Three Questions with Steven Pressfield
I've recommended Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART to so many writers, I ought to be on commission. As I've mentioned on the blog, WOA is one of the best resources at a writer's disposal for helping to fight the evil powers of procrastination, which Pressfield calls resistance. I'm such a believer, I'll draw the name of one commenter on today's post and send you your own copy!
And here's something even more exciting. Recently, I was very delighted when Steven Pressfield was kind enough to answer these three brief questions for the blog.
BtO: How does resistance make every other looming task (including toilet-bowl scrubbing) more attractive than the work we're trying to get started?
SP: I don't know, but it sure does, doesn't it? Somebody should write a book about all the different activities that suddenly become so attractive the instant the thought of actually Doing Our Work enters our mind. Did you read that one in Robert McKee's intro to WOA--where he took out all his clothes from his closet and arranged them into "winter," "summer," etc. That is demented! Me? I've done everything from drive across the country thirteen different times to totally screwing up my life. "Whatever works, baby!"
BtO: As useful as it is, I'm pretty sure the Internet is the handmaiden of resistance, with its myriad distractions and the dangerous temptation to hunt up your own reviews (and believe only the bad ones). How do you cope with the web's dark side?
SP: I get sucked into it too. I'm afraid there's no answer but pure will power. How do you stop yourself from eating chocolate? [Colleen's Response: Have been asking self that question for years.] There's a great book, not easy to find, by Roberto Assagioli called "The Act of Will." Try reading that. I started, but it put up so much Resistance, I stopped.
BtO: What's the most important thing you've learned about writing since the completion of THE WAR OF ART?
SP: If anything, I would say I have even more respect for Resistance now than I did when I wrote WOA. In other words, I believe it's even more powerful and insidious than I thought--and I thought it was unbelievably powerful and insidious back then!
The forms that Resistance can take, particularly in interpersonal relationships, seem to be infinite and incredibly subtle and pernicious. It's a subject for a whole other book, or certainly part of one.
Resistance, in my experience, doesn't diminish with time or skill or the accumulation of past successes. It's just as brutal for the long-time pro as it is for the neophyte. And I haven't found, nor do I expect to, any magic bullet to overcome it. The result is I've come to have even more respect for working writers and artists and entrepreneurs who face it down every day and do their work.
"Turning pro" is still the best answer--at least for me. And it helps to associate with other pros, whom we recognize if we ourselves are doing our work. As someone once said, "A gun recognizes another gun."
Hope that helps, Colleen. Thanks for three terrific questions.
This is terrific, Steven. Thanks so much for stopping by.
I hope every BtO reader will checking Writing Wednesdays over on Steven's blog. I especially loved the post "What the Muse Wants." Also, for those who enjoyed historical fiction, be sure to check out Steven's latest, Killing Rommel. My son, an avid WW II buff, loved it.
I'll leave BtO blogsters with one last question. What's the most ridiculous task you've been driven to (see toilet cleaning and closet sorting, above) in order to resist doing your actual work?