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The War of Art

There’s all stripes of writing advice out there and, surprisingly, almost all of it is good. As a writer, much of the journey is discovering what works for you and what doesn’t. The only way to come to understand what works for you is through completion. If you’re not finishing things, then you’re not learning what works for you. And that is not good.

Finishing your work is like making the sale in Glengarry Glen Ross. I admonish you to watch this video snippet:

So, that being said – substituting THE END for THE SALE (and subtracting all the non-politically correct language because, you know, we’re all politically correct up in this biznatch at all times), if there’s any hard and fast rule to writing it has to be finish what you start. Without a completed piece, you’ll never be able to discern what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll have nothing to sell. You’ll have wasted your time.

Steven Pressfield has written a wonderful motivational book called THE WAR OF ART. In it, he states that all of art is war and you have to face down Resistance that keeps you from the finish line. I recommend this highly. It’s full of insightful things like:


So, much advice on writing is available on the web. And you can lose yourself down that rabbit-hole. I think most writers should do so, at least once. Become familiar with all the advice, read books on writing – Anne Lamott and Lawrence Block and Stephen King, they all have books on the art and craft of writing. Hit Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLEMINDS and peruse his points about writing and publishing – you are a student and forwarned is forearmed. Follow writerly people on the Twitters and Facebook. Attend workshops. Join a writing group.

And then, after you’ve absorbed all that you can, try to forget it all. Your job is to write and finish the job. You are an assasin that must kill the project. Don’t let advice stop you. Feel free to allow yourself to just write without rules.

Don’t let expectation inhibit you.

You’re not a novelist until you’ve finished the manuscript. You have nothing until you’ve reached the end. That should be the holy grail for you.

Nothing else matters.

I’m blogging this to remind myself.



2 replies on “The War of Art”

I thought of you when I read this:
“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.”
― Flannery O’Connor
Keep at it John, you inspire us little people!

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