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Old 03-26-2009, 01:22 PM   #1
Barry Cooper
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The War of Art

I was rummaging through my books today, looking for another one, and came across a book I read some years ago, "The War of Art", by Steven (Gates of Fire) Pressfield.

Anyway, I had to share the following extended quote, and of course add my editorial comment.

"In my younger days dodging the draft, I somehow wound up in the Marine Corps. There's a myth that Marine training turns baby-faced recruits into bloodthirsty killers. Trust me, the Marine Corps is not that efficient. What it does teach, however, is a lot more useful

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.

This is invaluable for an artist.

Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys, or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because these candy-asses don't know how to be miserable.

The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.

The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie, or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell."

Now, first off, I am an agnostic as far as the services. I can't speak to who compares how to who. I am not trying to irritate anyone, or to support seriously his specific contention, which even he no doubt knows is overstated for the sake of rhetorical effect.

My intent, here, is to encourage you to substitute "CrossFitter" for Marine, and whatever you want for what you don't want to be. Globogym attendee. Bodybuilder. Whatever. The "math" still works.

Secondly, I wanted to point out that in my own experience, CrossFit is categorically helpful to the creative process. It upped my pain tolerance enormously. The creative work I do is exceedingly difficult. It is tedious, difficult, time consuming, and sometimes almost physically painful. It hurts.

His commentary above is useful knowledge. CrossFit, in my view, is quite literally a potential aid to writers, painters, philosophers, and anyone else trying to do something that has not been done before.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:26 PM   #2
Adam Scheiner
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Re: The War of Art

Barry,

I'm in the middle of writing a screenplay that I will be submitting to get approved as my senior project film. I've been agonizing over it for a month writing, re-writing, and thinking about it constantly to try and make it better. The deadline for it is closing in. More and more kids are deciding they want to do a senior project, which is different than in the past when most people were afraid to take on the task. It's starting to get competitive...

It's my day off from class, but I have a ton of work to get done. I need to find a job soon because my loans are running out, I have 3 tests next week, and the deadline for my script is growing closer every minute. I woke up at 10 o'clock and headed straight for the school's Tech center, which is where I am currently. I make a couple of calls to potential employers, read some online articles for class and then start to work on my script or better yet think about my script. I've had a block for about a week. I'm looking at the screen for over an hour and haven't written a single word. Every minute that passes I feel the deadline getting closer and closer and closer.

You see my problem is not that I can't think of anything to write. It's that I realized with this movie I will be making a huge choice. The choice of what kind of writer/director I want to be.

Since coming to Temple I have felt the push from teachers to do documentaries, to do experimental films, or more dramatic narratives. I've never wanted to do documentaries. I've never wanted to do experimental stuff, actually before coming here I didn't even know what it was. I love dramatic narratives but it's just not my thing . Still I kept my mind open about them and after 3 painful years I've grown an appreciation for each style and for that matter every style, but it has rendered me confused about my own path and what I wanted to make. I've learned to respect them all equally and now I had no identity or bias. At least this was the way I felt until my spring break and I decided to reflect...

When I was 16 I decided I wanted to be a writer after I read the book Live From New York, telling the behind the scenes stories of SNL. I grew up in a house full of comedy and sports. I have vivid memories from when I was in elementary school and on every Saturday night my whole family gathered in the living room waiting to watch a new episode of the Simpsons, the Critic and then for the new episode of Saturday Night Live. It was like a . Some of my happiest memories from childhood were spent laughing my *** off at those shows. I thought they were brilliant. Over my spring break I filled my life with comedy watching everything I could. My parents have digital cable and an HBO subscription. The first day I came home I caught up on some shows that I've missed from Flight Of The Concords. Then I started watching East Bound And Down and was a bit disappointed with how dumb it was and how played out this type of ridiculous comedy had become. The last episode I watched was hilarious and had some serious touching moments, but mainly I could not get out of my head how obvious and stupid it was. Later in the week I watched a documentary called Comedians Of Comedy. It featured one of my favorite stand up comics, Zach Galafankis. The movie is about their type of stand up and their lives and why they decided to do this for a living. The type of stuff they do is ridiculous, but if you watched stand up as long as I have you realize how good they are and how gutsy some of their stuff is and it's sooooo SMART. It inspired me and I knew I wanted to do a comedy for my senior project. Break ended and I began writing and it was going well until I hit an inner dilemma. Will people respect me if I do this?

I'm still at school and I realize I left a binder at home, I didn't need to have it, but I was desperate to get out of there for a bit and sick of staring at the screen. I leave and walk to my bike and I pass the school's gym on the way. I look in and see a kid who is in the Kinesiology program, "Exercise Science", doing tri-cep extensions and looking at himself in the mirror. I've talked to him before about the school's program, he has shown me the books they read, and it's sad because he has no idea about real fitness or programming because the school is so concerned with the science it has forgotten the exercises. This poor kid is going to graduate with a degree in misunderstanding and try and help people with faulty methods. It made me think about CrossFit trainers and how little respect they get compared to doctors. Although the role they play in people's lives can many times be more important than doctors, people don't understand because my buddy at the gym and many more like him have has set the standard of what it means to be a trainer.

I get to my bike, the racks get full quick and mine was in a dry place and I have to come back, so I leave it. I could have taken the subway, but I really don't have money to waste on tokens. My house is about a half hour walk from school. It's pouring out, but I don't care I've pushed myself to the point of puking during a workout before so why do I give a **** about getting a little wet and walking through North Philly. I get home soaked with my mind pretty clear. I change my clothes, grab my binder, and remember to text Greg at CFCC that I have too much work to do to waste time at the gym (ironic I know). It gets me thinking about trainers again as I walk back to school. How much time they spend learning form and testing methods. How nuanced and artful programming actually is. These people deserve respect on the same level as a doctor, but people don't think that way because of meat heads like my friend in the gym who make it seem so obvious and stupid when it's not. THEN IT HITS ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. I remember an old quote from Mike Myers about the comedy he does and I grew up with, he said, "It's dumb comedy done by smart people." The comedy I loved was silly, but it had a heart because you cared about the characters. There was a wholesomeness to it, a complexity to it, the same kind of thing that made me like the last episode of East Bound and Down. It may not be respected on the same level as other genres, but it's just as good as them. Trainers might not get respected as much as doctors, but they are still just as important as any other field for peoples health.

I know what kind of writer I want to be now. In a very weird way my study of film has paralleled my study of fitness. It's really weird, but crossfit has made me a better writer, and writing has made me a better athlete. Thanks for posting this thread Barry. I needed to get this off my chest.

Now if you excuse me I need to get off this ****ing website and start writing again!
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Last edited by Adam Scheiner : 03-26-2009 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
David Schneider
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Re: The War of Art

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Scheiner View Post
Barry,

I'm in the middle of writing a screenplay that I will be submitting to get approved as my senior project film. I've been agonizing over it for a month writing, re-writing, and thinking about it constantly to try and make it better. The deadline for it is closing in. More and more kids are deciding they want to do a senior project, which is different than in the past when most people were afraid to take on the task. It's starting to get competitive...

It's my day off from class, but I have a ton of work to get done. I need to find a job soon because my loans are running out, I have 3 tests next week, and the deadline for my script is growing closer every minute. I woke up at 10 o'clock and headed straight for the school's Tech center, which is where I am currently. I make a couple of calls to potential employers, read some online articles for class and then start to work on my script or better yet think about my script. I've had a block for about a week. I'm looking at the screen for over an hour and haven't written a single word. Every minute that passes I feel the deadline getting closer and closer and closer.

You see my problem is not that I can't think of anything to write. It's that I realized with this movie I will be making a huge choice. The choice of what kind of writer/director I want to be.

Since coming to Temple I have felt the push from teachers to do documentaries, to do experimental films, or more dramatic narratives. I've never wanted to do documentaries. I've never wanted to do experimental stuff, actually before coming here I didn't even know what it was. I love dramatic narratives but it's just not my thing . Still I kept my mind open about them and after 3 painful years I've grown an appreciation for each style and for that matter every style, but it has rendered me confused about my own path and what I wanted to make. I've learned to respect them all equally and now I had no identity or bias. At least this was the way I felt until my spring break and I decided to reflect...

When I was 16 I decided I wanted to be a writer after I read the book Live From New York, telling the behind the scenes stories of SNL. I grew up in a house full of comedy and sports. I have vivid memories from when I was in elementary school and on every Saturday night my whole family gathered in the living room waiting to watch a new episode of the Simpsons, the Critic and then for the new episode of Saturday Night Live. It was like a . Some of my happiest memories from childhood were spent laughing my *** off at those shows. I thought they were brilliant. Over my spring break I filled my life with comedy watching everything I could. My parents have digital cable and an HBO subscription. The first day I came home I caught up on some shows that I've missed from Flight Of The Concords. Then I started watching East Bound And Down and was a bit disappointed with how dumb it was and how played out this type of ridiculous comedy had become. The last episode I watched was hilarious and had some serious touching moments, but mainly I could not get out of my head how obvious and stupid it was. Later in the week I watched a documentary called Comedians Of Comedy. It featured one of my favorite stand up comics, Zach Galafankis. The movie is about their type of stand up and their lives and why they decided to do this for a living. The type of stuff they do is ridiculous, but if you watched stand up as long as I have you realize how good they are and how gutsy some of their stuff is and it's sooooo SMART. It inspired me and I knew I wanted to do a comedy for my senior project. Break ended and I began writing and it was going well until I hit an inner dilemma. Will people respect me if I do this?

I'm still at school and I realize I left a binder at home, I didn't need to have it, but I was desperate to get out of there for a bit and sick of staring at the screen. I leave and walk to my bike and I pass the school's gym on the way. I look in and see a kid who is in the Kinesiology program, "Exercise Science", doing tri-cep extensions and looking at himself in the mirror. I've talked to him before about the school's program, he has shown me the books they read, and it's sad because he has no idea about real fitness or programming because the school is so concerned with the science it has forgotten the exercises. This poor kid is going to graduate with a degree in misunderstanding and try and help people with faulty methods. It made me think about CrossFit trainers and how little respect they get compared to doctors. Although the role they play in people's lives can many times be more important than doctors, people don't understand because my buddy at the gym and many more like him have has set the standard of what it means to be a trainer.

I get to my bike, the racks get full quick and mine was in a dry place and I have to come back, so I leave it. I could have taken the subway, but I really don't have money to waste on tokens. My house is about a half hour walk from school. It's pouring out, but I don't care I've pushed myself to the point of puking during a workout before so why do I give a **** about getting a little wet and walking through North Philly. I get home soaked with my mind pretty clear. I change my clothes, grab my binder, and remember to text Greg at CFCC that I have too much work to do to waste time at the gym (ironic I know). It gets me thinking about trainers again as I walk back to school. How much time they spend learning form and testing methods. How nuanced and artful programming actually is. These people deserve respect on the same level as a doctor, but people don't think that way because of meat heads like my friend in the gym who make it seem so obvious and stupid when it's not. THEN IT HITS ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. I remember an old quote from Mike Myers about the comedy he does and I grew up with, he said, "It's dumb comedy done by smart people." The comedy I loved was silly, but it had a heart because you cared about the characters. There was a wholesomeness to it, a complexity to it, the same kind of thing that made me like the last episode of East Bound and Down. It may not be respected on the same level as other genres, but it's just as good as them. Trainers might not get respected as much as doctors, but they are still just as important as any other field for peoples health.

I know what kind of writer I want to be now. In a very weird way my study of film has paralleled my study of fitness. It's really weird, but CrossFit has made me a better writer, and writing has made me a better athlete. Thanks for posting this thread Barry. I needed to get this off my chest.

Now if you excuse me I need to get off this ****ing website and start writing again!
That's my boy
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Old 03-26-2009, 07:00 PM   #4
John D. Burch
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Re: The War of Art

Great post Barry!
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:11 AM   #5
Barry Cooper
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Re: The War of Art

Very good. I had a hunch I might pull something like that out of the woodwork.

Best of luck. Of course, if you're reading this and not done, GET YOUR *** BACK IN THE RING!!!!

I say that with the utmost compassion, of course.
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Old 03-27-2009, 06:48 PM   #6
Darrell E. White
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Re: The War of Art

Top notch, Barry. I'm going to ruminate on it a bit before I reply. I might actually hijack it for "musings"...full attribution of course!
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:38 PM   #7
Adam Scheiner
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Re: The War of Art

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Originally Posted by Barry Cooper View Post
Very good. I had a hunch I might pull something like that out of the woodwork.

Best of luck. Of course, if you're reading this and not done, GET YOUR *** BACK IN THE RING!!!!

I say that with the utmost compassion, of course.
Hey Barry,

I got accepted into senior projects. Thanks for the kick in the rear when I needed it. Now it's time for the real fun to begin....btw does anyone have a random $5,000-$10,000 they want to give me, because I have to find a way to pull that out of my *** somehow for this movie?

Sincerely,
Adam Scheiner
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Old 05-08-2009, 11:57 AM   #8
Barry Cooper
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Re: The War of Art

Well done, Adam.

Maybe you can talk your local affiliate into some sort of fundraiser? Find some hot women and do a car wash? Somebody somewhere has had your problem, and almost certainly some of them have been at your school.
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:47 PM   #9
Adam Scheiner
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Re: The War of Art

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Well done, Adam.

Maybe you can talk your local affiliate into some sort of fundraiser? Find some hot women and do a car wash? Somebody somewhere has had your problem, and almost certainly some of them have been at your school.
Don't worry Barry I'm on it, I've gone into full blown research mode, but unfortunately I haven't found any ideas that I can practically apply to my situation. Although I'm starting to give serious thought to whoring myself out to 50 hot chicks for $100 dollars a shot or to 5 fat chicks for $1,000 a pop. (I may or may not be kidding about that at this point if I could pull it off, dignity and shame kind of go out the window when you don't have any money).
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:57 AM   #10
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: The War of Art

that's what crossfit is for!
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