The War of Art

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My notes from the great book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield which I rated 5/5 on my Goodreads account.

How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. All that matters is I put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make a stand up and confront Resistance?

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity will elicit resistance.

Resistance is the enemy within.

Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get the deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance will feel toward pursuing it.

When we fight it, we are in the war to the death.

Resistance is fueled by fear.

The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.

Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.

The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.

The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.

Never forget: this very moment, we can change our lives.

We’re doing exactly what the commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do from birth. Instead of a applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work, we simply consume a product.

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.

Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others.

If you find yourself asking you (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are.

The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has the play hurt.

Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gathered around at your deathbed.

Rationalization is Resistance’s right-hand man. It’s job is to keep us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work.

You’re where you wanted to be, aren’t you? So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.

The professional, though he accepts money, does his work out of love.

The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.

He is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage.

It would never occur to him, as it would to an amateur, that he knows everything, or can figure everything out on his own. On the contrary, he seeks out the most knowledgeable teacher and listens with both ears.

He reminds himself it’s better to be in the arena, getting stompped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.

An amateur lets the negative opinion of others unman him. He takes external criticism to heart, allowing it to trump his own belief in himself and his work. Resistance loves this.

The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: supreme compliment. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.

There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our own mind to view ourselves as pros, and we do it. Simple as that.

The last thing I do before I sit down to work is say say my prayer to the Muse. I say I it out loud, in absolute earnest. Only then do I get down to business.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.

Miraculously, cancers go into remission. People recover. It is possible, Tom Laughlin asks, that the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives?

These are serious fears. But they’re not the real fear. Fear that we will succeed. That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess. That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.

Our job in this lifetime is not the shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but the find out who we already are and become it.

The artist must operate teritorially. He must do his work for its own sake. To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.

Of any activity you do, ask yourself: if I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?

We must do our work for its own sake, not for the fortune or attention or applause.

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.

Written by Nikola Brežnjak