Read This One Book to Beat Writer's Block |

Read This One Book to Beat Writer’s Block

How to Beat Writer's Block

“I love writing, but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, ‘You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, Giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy: I’m a white piece of paper. You wanna dance with me?’ and I really, really don’t. I’ll go peaceable-like.”Aaron Sorkin

Every writer knows the tyranny of a white piece of paper. We’ve all been through periods where it’s impossible to sit down and type.

Here’s the truth – every creative project I’ve ever embarked on has started the same way: I stare at the white screen, I hate everything, take a deep breath, and then I start typing. Then, once I’ve started, I do everything in my power to keep going, at least for a little while. It is the only way I know to get things done.

This method is something I’ve honed over the years, and it works for me because I understand my enemy. I know what I’m staring down when that white screen is blinking at me. It is called Resistance, and it hates me, and everything I stand for.

I know this because Steven Pressfield told me. I’ve read the War of Art, and you should, too.

“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. 


What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

Steven Pressfield

In The War of Art Pressfield defines Resistance as the singular force that stops you from completing any work that will have a positive impact on your life. Resistance is why it took me so long to write this blog post. Resistance is why I haven’t written that book yet. Resistance is the source of all writer’s block, ever.

“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Steven Pressfield

Although short, The War of Art is made up of three books. In Book One, Pressfield defines Resistance, listing its characteristics. As you read it, you’ll begin to recognise Resistance everywhere. Your behavior will start to make sense. You’ll learn that Resistance is self-generated and self-perpetuated, and how it will do anything to stop you from doing that one thing you always wanted to do.

“Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Steven Pressfield

Book Two is about how to fight Resistance. The only way to do it is by what Pressfield calls ‘turning pro’: becoming a Professional. You can start to battle back. Pressfield lists the ways. You prepare. You are patient. You ask for help. You focus. You control your fear. You do the work. You do the work, and inspiration visits you.

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

Steven Pressfield

The third book is about why this fight is worth having. It’s about muses and talent and links our work to a higher calling. It impossible to read it and not be inspired.

I read the War of Art once a year, every year. It’s the one book that I gift more than any other. If you ever write anything down, if you’ve ever started down a blank sheet of paper, you need to read this book.

If you’re blocked, if you’re facing Resistance, buy this book.

Identify your enemy.

Do your work.