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

Summary

An outline of the forces that prevent us from doing our life’s work. How to identify what prevents us from doing our work and how to tackle it. Pressfield covers most endeavours as ones of art – from entrepreneurship to writing.

Snippets

Writing and finding the energy to write
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.
On Hitler as an artist
It was easier for Hitler to start world war 2 than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
What is resistance (capital R)
Resistance is the enemy within.
On overcoming obstacles
The more important a call or action is to our souls evolution, the more resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.
Resistance when you get near the end of a project
The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Reistance 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.
On drama
The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life. Because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work.
Procrastination by consuming
Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification and hard work, we simple consume a product.
Procrastination by victimisation
Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work.
On confidence
Individuals who are realised in their own lives almost never criticise others.
On whether you love something or not
The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
On trusting the process
The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come, or not come
On becoming a master
I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after.
On patience
The professional understands delayed gratification.
On feeling fear and doing it anyway
The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work.
On prioritisation
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.
Apprenticeship and learning
The professional respects his craft. He recognises the contribution of those who have gone before him. He apprentices himself to them.
Mastery and preparation
The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he want to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
Getting used to performing
Madonna does not identify with Madonna. Madonna employs Madonna.
Ego management
If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance on ourselves.
Deciding to take on mastery
There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.
On carving out a USP versus beating others
For the artist to define himself hierarchically is fatal
On why you need to overcome selfishness
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.