I recently reread Steven Pressfield’s War of Art. It’s one of those books that generates inspiration. Pressfield’s theory is that the resistance an author or other creator feels — the fear, the lethargy, the whatever gets in his way — is not only natural and inevitable, but highly instructive. What you resist, you also in some way love. It is important to you. It is valuable.

Pressfield spends much of this little book describing resistance in its many forms, cleverly evoking the same enemy again and again in different guises. The treatment is reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, in which Calvino describes Venice over and over, but never the same way twice.

Pressfield spends the balance of the book describing ways in which the creator can overcome, must overcome, resistance. Here, too, he writes with a nice turn of phrase, so that the instruction does not sound shrill, but instead gentle but insistent.

In all, the book is entertaining and, as mentioned earlier, inspirational. I note that a little voice in the back of my head always wonders when I read a book like this whether the reading is, in fact, a manifestation of my own resistance. If I’m reading, then I’m not creating. I can be preparing, diligently preparing, feeling virtuous about preparing. All the while, the writing remains unwritten, and the canvas remains blank.

So, I read books like this sometimes, and I enjoy them. This one is a particular treat, and it is worth the slight worries I have about the time spent. The key, of course, is to be able to set aside the books and sit down to write, to draw, to paint, to create. Doing always excels spectating.