I just finished reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. In an attempt to live the concepts discussed in the book, I’m going to write about what I learned from the book. Naturally, right out of the gate, my first inclination is to feel like no one will care about my thoughts, and that might be true. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to fight Resistance for today.
As I began to think about the book and what I gleaned from it, one phrase stuck out to me: “When we start, we give birth to ourselves”. That isn’t a direct quote, but rather a summation of one of the sections of the book that resonated with me — this idea that we are all capable of doing great things, but for a mountain of reasons we can’t get ourselves to just start.
I know for myself, I want the writing I do to be useful. I don’t want to just write and have it not matter. But in reality, I don’t get to decide what matters. If I take the topic of the book to heart, then that sentiment, although understandable, is just Resistance speaking in the form of rationalization. So instead of rationalizing, I’m going to give birth to myself as a writer, and just write.
When we start something, we don’t have to be great at it. Often times, not being great at something can lead us to believe we weren’t meant to do it. But that’s not true. Once we start, a beautiful thing happens. We now have something we can improve upon.
As a musician, the first time we play our instruments is never going to be the best we are capable of. But working to improve your abilities is built in to our profession. We know if what we perform is not at the level we want it to be at, then we assess, make a new plan, and try again. Doing that process over the course of a long period of time will land you in a much better place than you were when you started.
Many of us started our instruments when we were young. When you’re a kid, trying again and again doesn’t really seem like a big deal. You’re just doing it because your teacher or parent told you to. Or maybe because you want to play well in your band class. The work we put in when were aren’t great at our instruments just sort of happens over the years. We do our best, and for many of us, before we know it we’re having fun playing our instruments and thinking about whether or not we want to pursue this instrument more seriously.
For those of us that have other interests, the same laws of progression apply. We will be bad at it, we keep trying, and then before we know it, we have a level of proficiency that allows us to ask if we might have the ability to pursue that interest even further. The problem is, most of us don’t like the idea of starting over again.
One of the hardest parts about beginning to podcast was not being good at it. As a trumpet player, I’ve grown to a level that even if I have problems, I can still play at a high enough level to feel like it’s worth my time. But podcasting was not like that. I tried to sit down and start talking about whatever topic that I felt capable of talking about, and I just froze. I realized in that moment that I was actually a total beginner at something again. That was a hard moment for me.
But I didn’t quit. I evolved, I changed. I got outside advice. I sought the opinions of people that I trusted and used them to help me get better. It was definitely helpful, but it was also time consuming. However, I had never experienced working toward something where time just seemed to slip away. I would begin working on an episode and when I finished it, I would look up, and 7 hours would have passed. It was and still is to this day a labor of love for me.
After reading this book, I know that the feelings of doubt I have experienced can be called Resistance. It was a major goal of mine to be as vulnerable as I could with online presence. I knew I had experiences that others could relate to and would possibly appreciate hearing about.
I’m glad I didn’t quit. Because I was able to continue honing my craft, I now consider my self to a podcaster. What I’m writing right now is an example of how I am now a writer because I am writing. I don’t want to be a person that feels like I have to wait around for inspiration. Instead, I think I’ll just start. Maybe, through the act of sitting down and writing, I’ll beat Resistance for a day, and creativity and inspiration will find its way to me. I’ll give birth to myself.
The War of Art is an amazing book. My thoughts might be interesting to you, but what’s more important are your thoughts. I encourage you to read that book and see how it inspires you to get more done!
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