The War of Art: A Book Review by Sharon Peach

Once upon a time, I went away on a sewing retreat. It was a new experience for me and I was unsure how it would go. I was nervous about the other quilters seeing my work and perhaps thinking that I was not “good” enough to be at the retreat, but I wanted to give it a try. Things went pretty well until we had a show and tell. I bravely took my quilt to the front of the class, hopeful that people would like it. What I got instead was a lot of feedback from the instructor on what was wrong with it. I’m talking about a ton of feedback, it seemed to go on forever. I was crushed. Clearly, my initial fears had been confirmed and I had no business being there. I decided that I would not be showing any of my work ever again to anyone, ever.

I came home from the retreat and was completely down, berating myself for obviously being the most pathetic quilter ever. As I sat wallowing on the couch, I picked up a book that had been loaned to me, and started to read. The book was called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles I read the entire book in about 2 ˝ hours and it changed my whole outlook.

Now I realize that this may sound a little hokey, but I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that I got knocked around a little at the retreat so that I would be receptive to the message in that book. I believe that book was meant to teach me something that I needed to learn. I believe that all those circumstances came together at that time because this was something important for me.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. Resistance arises from within us. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within. To overcome Resistance, we must become “professionals”, concentrating on the work and allowing rewards to come or not come, whatever they like. Approaching our art as professionals means that we get the work done, we do not succumb to Resistance. The most important thing that we can do is the work.

So, what did I learn? I learned that the only one who can stop me is me. The first thing I needed to do was change my definition of success. Success isn’t creating the most fantastic quilt ever, success is FINISHING. Success is overcoming your own mental hurdles and finishing the project. Anything more than that is just gravy. And every time you finish something, you need to show it to others and rejoice in the fact that you have succeeded, you have finished. It doesn’t matter how it compares to the work of others, it is successful, you are successful. The more you focus on how your work compares to others, the more potential hurdles you throw in front of yourself. Focus on the work.

I now believe that doing the work is being successful, finishing is success. I try to show everything that I finish to someone and I try to rejoice in that success. This has resulted in a paradigm shift for me and has fundamentally changed how I approach my art. I think this book has an important message for all of us and I highly recommend it.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sharon Peach

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