Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
The War of Art, and JoCo on becoming a "true person"
Merlin Mann | Mar 8 2007
I first heard about The War of Art from David Allen during our GTD podcast series last year. I finally picked up a copy a couple months back and read it in an evening. Like a lot of self-help books, it's longer than it needs to be (and it's not actually very long to begin with), but it does make some great points about what its author calls "resistance."
Resistance can be thought of as anything that pulls us away from doing the work we know is most important to us. It takes many forms (including procrastination, fear, distraction, and negative self-talk), but the effect is often similar: we find or permit all kinds of barriers to keep us from becoming the person we want to be, or from completing the thing we really want to make. Whether that's being a published author, a composer, a playwright, or a painter, our impulse to create constantly battles an impulse to do something else, or to do nothing -- to not upset our weirdly comfy stasis.
This book came up twice in my recent interview with Jonathan Coulton; both in part one and today's recently released part two. Jonathan strikes me as someone who has, so far, succeeded at talking down the resistance he'd faced, and now he's doing what he's great at, and, in his words, he's working hard to become the kind of "true person" that he wants to be for his daughter.
I think it's really important to underscore that beating resistance does not have to mean quitting your job or doing something equally dramatic; it just means that you identify and then choose to beat the crap out of whatever perceived obstacle keeps you from doing your work. You "go Pro" as Pressfield (not "Pressman") says, making it all about the work, and not allowing yourself to trail off when it gets hard or when you have to fight in order to get your stuff done. Pretty inspiring stuff, as far as I'm concerned.
I really liked this second part of the interview with JoCo; particularly when Jonathan confessed that his lack of an email system has him "screwed."
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