Adopting A Warrior Mindset To Optimise Creativity
Drawing on learnings from ‘The War of Art’ , recommended to me by a good friend.
How hard are you willing to fight?
Have you ever wanted something so much, the very prospect of you getting that something terrifies the hell out of you?
I urge you for just a moment, to give yourself the liberty to visualize decanting your existence — physical, internal. Insert it into a mould of a warrior of your choice.
Now picture that mould in a control room with manufactured conditions — wind, bullets, jello — anything your imagination will allow.
This room and its controlled tests are your reality. The mould is the ‘Resistance’ (Pressfield).
Here are four summary points outlining the journey of a ‘creative warrior’.
1. Acquaint yourself with Resistance
Who are we against?
To put it simply, Resistance is the ‘other’.
It negates your innate power. It is impatient and stagnant.
It is an invisible cloak that simply coats our light. Although invisible, it is heavy and stifling. What’s more insidious is that it is immune from blame, as the cloak of Resistance is woven from our internal being.
As Pressfield puts it, Resistance “Operates with the indifference of rain, and transits the ehavens by the same laws as the stars.”
Accept that Resistance accumulates when the object at play is of major importance to us. Its rate of acceleration is directly proportional to the amount of love we have for whatever we wish to achieve.
Accept that whatever is stopping you is fear, and also that fear is only unfamiliarity.
If you acquaint yourself with Resistance, maybe you won’t need to be a victim nor self-sabotage anymore.
If not, you’ll understand why the lazy artist is full of self-loathing. The weight of Resistance becomes clinical and dire. You’ll find yourself in a deep well of despair, with brittle walls.
Good luck getting out.
2. Get on with it
Consider the A in Art as ‘Action’ instead.
Whenever you feel the allies of Resistance pinning you down, maybe sink into the ground instead of attempting to break free.
Underneath it all, you will find love for self-doubt, and shelter from the part of you that needs healing. You don’t need to heal to create. They are not mutually exclusive, and only one prevents the other. Guess which one?
Even when it seems irrational to get on with the job, understand that sometimes irrationality is necessary for progression.
3. Understand that Professionalism and Amateurism are merely constructs
Take yourself seriously, or nobody else will.
I’ve always been of the understanding that the title of an ‘artist’ bears much weight. Thousands of accolades under their belt. Maybe a stringent.
The ‘Warrior’s Way’ posits that it’s not how great you are at your job, its how you tend to your work. To what extent do you really do the work? Can you fall in love with being miserable sometimes? Can you maintain humility, jest and healthy distance from your work?
At first it is overwhelming. But with professionalism, when there is a will, there is almost certainly a way.
Alas, the journey after resisting resistance is not all smooth sailing.
When you do the work. The work mutates and the control room levels up.
4. Think latitude, not longitude
Pressfield speaks of territory and hierarchy in terms of how we choose to do the work.
Humans are born hierarchically. We are the embryos of our carriers. The moment we become sentient beings, our brains lurch into a road of making sense of the world. A hierarchical orientation is out of the question for artists. It is prostitution to Resistance. It is the most comfortable and common.
But not a single warrior will get out alive hierarchicaly orientated.
Their only hope of winning is by adopting a territorial orientation, characterised by ownership. The act of creation in and of itself is territorial. It runs and processes through you. It is independent and unbothered. It requires work. It is input → output. It is a solitary mission, motivated wholly by the interior.
5. Umpire the battle between Self vs Ego
According to Pressman, ‘Angels’ or muses make their home in the self. Resistance has its seat in the Ego.
So consider the moment you’re content with the idea of being a workhorse to an unknown or controllable entity like an ‘angel’ or ‘muse’ as transcendent.
A new highway will appear for ideas to flow through you. Even the tread-marks will be art.
If you’ve ever framed creativity as selfish, you thought wrong. In fact, it’s the complete antithesis. If your work is coming from your self, it is the most selfless thing on this earth.
Creating things from a vacuum takes vulnerability, generosity and strength.
It’s possible that today’s creators are partitioned into the most courageous and cowardly people in this world. Some toy with Resistance, undermine professionalism, operate longitudinally, and react from the Ego. Others fight back, deconstruct amateurism, think latitudinally and are connected with their Self.
Which side is it going to be?
‘The War Of Art’”— Steven Pressfield