Book: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

War of Art is a book about creative struggle. Pressfield writes about Resistance as the ultimate nemesis of creativity, a Darth Vader of any creative endeavour.

It applies to enterpreneurs, poets, moviemakers and writers alike. If you want to make something worthwhile, you will be harassed by resistance. Even if you are trying to loose weight, resistance is there to try to stop you.

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My takeway is:

Don’t wait for inspiration. Combat resistance and do the work. Do it for the sake of your art, not to get ahead.

Feel fear? You’re on the right track.

My highlights

  • an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
  • Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet.
  • It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
  • Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
  • The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.
  • Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance
  • The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.
  • Resistance by definition is self-sabotage. But
  • The awakening artist must be ruthless, not only with herself but with others. Once you make your break, you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on the barbed wire.
  • Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.
  • Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives.
  • Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance.
  • Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance. Why put in years of work designing a new software interface when you can get just as much attention by bringing home a boyfriend with a prison record?
  • Dad gets drunk, Mom gets sick, Janie shows up for church with an Oakland Raiders tattoo. It’s more fun than a movie. And it works: Nobody gets a damn thing done.
  • Doctors estimate that seventy to eighty percent of their business is non-health-related. People aren’t sick, they’re self- dramatizing.
  • Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work. Don’t do it. If you’re doing it, stop.
  • We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games,
  • The fundamentalist entertains no such notion. In his view, humanity has fallen from a higher state. The truth is not out there awaiting revelation; it has already been revealed. The word of God has been spoken and recorded by His prophet, be he Jesus, Muhammad, or Karl Marx.
  • Fundamentalism is the philosophy of the powerless, the conquered, the displaced and the dispossessed.
  • Fundamentalism and art are mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as fundamentalist art.
  • The humanist believes that humankind, as individuals, is called upon to co-create the world with God.
  • The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
  • The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
  • The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
  • order for a book (or any project or enterprise) to hold our attention for the length of time it takes to unfold itself, it has to plug into some internal perplexity or passion that is of paramount importance to us.
  • What counted was that I had, after years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.
  • What better way of avoiding work than going to a workshop? But what I hate even worse is the word support.
  • Oh yeah? Have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?
  • Somerset Maugham 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.”
  • I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.
  • The years have taught me one skill: how to be miserable. I know how to shut up and keep humping.
  • Marines love to be miserable.
  • All of us are pros in one area: our jobs.
  • 1)   We show up every day.
  • 2)   We show up no matter what.
  • 3)   We stay on the job all day.
  • 4)   We are committed over the long haul.
  • 5)   The stakes for us are high and real.
  • We accept remuneration for our labor.
  • We do not overidentify with our jobs.
  • The amateur, on the other hand, overidentifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration.
  • We master the technique of our jobs.
  • We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
  • We receive praise or blame in the real world.
  • the more important its accomplishment is to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more Resistance you will experience facing it.
  • It uses his own enthusiasm against him.
  • The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.
  • The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it.
  • The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality
  • “Good for you,” he said without looking up. “Start the next one today.”
  • that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred.
  • “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”
  • I was the salty old Gunny. The power to take charge was in my hands; all I had to do was believe it.
  • When we deliberately alter our consciousness in any way, we’re trying to find the Self.
  • We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become.
  • There’s a problem with the hierarchical orientation, though. When the numbers get too big, the thing breaks down. A pecking order can hold only so many chickens.
  • The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.
  • When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for.
  • 1)   A territory provides sustenance.
  • 2)   A territory sustains us without any external input.
  • 3)   A territory can only be claimed alone.
  • 4)   A territory can only be claimed by work.
  • 5)   A territory returns exactly what you put in.
  • If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
  • Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

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