I was looking for more stuff to read on the Kindle when I noticed that on my Wish List appeared a book I'd never heard of before: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield. Don't know how the book got there; probably it was a recommendation from a friend or maybe someone on this blog. Since the Kindle version was just $4, I just snap-bought it, downloaded, and ignored it for a while.
Before I get to that, a little story about last week.
Last Tuesday, I got put through my paces pretty good in the daytime jiujitsu class. That's really an understatement; we were practically military-style hazed. In addition to the standard "warmup", I had to give a piggyback ride up and down the mats to a bunch of big 200-250 lb bastards which is not so easy when you're me. Then we went straight into sparring and I dealt with all the hungry fresh white belts (who didn't have to do this piggyback bullshit) trying to terrorize the skinny little blue belt. It was, quite frankly, awful and I did not want to move the rest of the day. I also took Wednesday off to heal up.
On Thursday morning my body was in that state where it was still very sore, and very tired, and I was on the fence about whether to go train. I started messing around on the internet trying to read articles about DOMS and whether you should train when you're really sore and all of that and, at some point, I came across some forum post from some dude who basically told another guy, "you need to get a little more dumb."
Most professional athletes aren't extremely smart. Many are, but most aren't. What they most often are is dedicated, confident, head-strong, and they do what they're told. They don't bitch about minor shit, they don't find reasons to not train, practice or compete, they don't wonder about whether the little injury they're nursing is okay to play with, they just man the fuck up and do it. So last Thursday, I basically decided to get a little more dumb, and start to man the fuck up.
Because the fact of the matter is, while I don't have the talent to be a high-level professional athlete, there is no reason I can't simply train like one. I have money, time, and joints that still mostly work the way they're supposed to. All of those aren't even prerequisites to training like a professional athlete, so in fact, they're advantages. Actually becoming
a high-level athlete? Well, those require some particular god-given gifts that I probably don't possess. But I don't really desire to be the best in the world; I simply desire to be the best that I can be.
So I found it really serendipitous that I started to read The War of Art
on Saturday. I will start by simply saying that I am 35% of the way through the book (thanks, Kindle) and it is one of the best things I have ever read. Steven Pressfield is a fiction writer, but here he writes about how aspiring artists can overcome the blinking cursor or the blank canvas. Because Pressfield is a fiction writer, it's simply one of the most beautifully-written and compelling non-fiction books I've ever read. It is an incredibly inspiring book. If I had to distill my thoughts on what I have read so far into one sentence, it would be this:If there is any goal whatsoever that you wish to accomplish and you are in any way procrastinating or making excuses for not succeeding, buy this book right now.
And presumably, everyone has some
they want to do. Lose weight. Finish grad school. Write a novel. Run a marathon. Meet more girls. Get your black belt. Make $100k/year. Backpack around South America. Whatever. Don't care. If you're wasting time putting this shit off in any way, read the goddamn book.
Thing is, anyone can write a book to say "get off your lazy ass and start doing something." But the way Pressfield identifies the nature of resistance simply makes it so blindingly apparent that you have absolutely no excuses for not going for your goals. You think you have all these excuses, but let's be honest: your excuses suck. It's way, way more easy to make up excuses than to overcome them.
I'm probably doing a terrible job of re-writing what he writes in the book so just go buy the book. (Late edit: The last third of the book goes off the rails a little bit, so be forewarned.)
(Paperback) The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
(Kindle) THE WAR OF ART
And if you'll excuse me now, I've got to go train in half an hour.
 If this was you, thanks!