A few years ago I joined a coaching programme and one of the many things my amazing coach recommended to me was a book called The War of Art. A play on words of The Art of War by Chinese General Sun Tzu (c. 5th Century B.C.), it was designed to help creative people, especially writers and entrepreneurs (and artists, of course) break down the barriers to the creation of their art.
Being an Olympian procrastinator, it was just what I needed (and made me smile, since one or two people over the years have called me Art). Sadly, life circumstances (yes, excuses!) meant I couldn’t keep up the creative streak I started (I wrote the first 12,000 words of a new book in less than two weeks). A year later, or so, I had a similar streak, but this time I realised that there was probably not enough meat in what I was writing to justify a whole new website and I was once again a casualty of the war of my art. Though it did provide plenty of new content for a new section on an existing site (www.applied-corporate-governance.com, which celebrated 10 years last year).
Then, a couple of years ago, I began a new streak using the writing tool I recommend on my Resources page. I was happy with the discipline of daily writing I achieved this time, not trying to focus almost exclusively on writing, but writing smaller pieces as part of a bigger project, which I began to map out but avoided the temptation to get too bogged down with planning as I am wont to do.
That was perhaps my downfall, ironically, as I ran out of steam again. This time my excuse was that my father and I were working on a book but his work turned into a mammoth project and my “front end” also turned into a book project in its own right, only mine petered out. The war of art continued.
Now I have joined a new writing community called 200wordsaday.com, which has the simple goal of helping writers build and maintain a writing streak that can create amazing results through small goals, daily discipline and collective accountability and feedback.
It’s early days, but I have experience at successfully building new habits, so having committed publicly to this one, I am optimistic. I will post more about habit building in future, but this is a way of breaking my 6 month writing drought so I what I post next will make some sense! I will also get back to my series on Accessing Consciousness, which despite the great passion with which I began, fell victim to a lack of clarity and confidence, brought on by an attempt to start a YouTube channel with a “Earn from your passion” 30 day challenge (the only real problem was my non-HD videocamera was not up to it and all my work on the first two videos went out the window when I saw it on my big iMac screen!)
So if you have decided to read this in the search for tips or a more detailed review of the book (let me know and I’ll let you have one), I will at least end with what I have learnt about the war of art that I hope will help: I wouldn’t actually think of it as a war, despite the great book that it is. If, like me, you wish there wasn’t war, and realise the ironic folly of “fighting for peace”, the only thing you will achieve by setting yourself up for a battle is getting the adrenalin going. And once that adrenalin has worn off, as I have experienced multiple times, you are left wondering what you were doing and why.
Finding that why should be your mission. But it needn’t be an earth-shattering mission. I have one of those. But I have broken it down into a few smaller ones and by trying to write a little every day, I am beginning to move on almost all of them now (I’m only on day 4).
Finally, my uncertainty about whether to continue to try and pursue multiple projects or focus on one (and which one!) has given way to clarity: just do what you love and write and this will give you material to go out into the world, join the conversation and see who wants to listen! (I nearly used a war analogy of ammo and firing…old habits die hard!)
By opening myself up to the answers (taking my advice on accessing consciousness, if you will), things are flowing and I am happier every day – I now work daily to be happy in order to attract the life that I want (or rather the people and things I need to do it), instead of falling back, even though I know better, to thinking that trying to create the life I want will make me happy.
This reversal of cause and effect, learnt from the field of quantum mechanics is amazingly powerful. I highly recommend you try it. And make peace with yourself and your creativity so that your War of Art can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy of peaceful creation.