The War of Art
The War of Art summary

The War of Art

Rating: 7/10

Author: Steven Pressfield Read The Original

High-Level Thoughts

Overall it was a decent book. The greatest takeaway is to see yourself as a professional and not an amateur when you look at yourself and your work. The problems with the book are that it had absolutely no scientific evidence or even case studies or examples backing up Pressfield's points. Instead, he uses Greek mythology to help convey his metaphors, which had me raising my eyebrows a couple of times. Sometimes he categorizes creativity as just to keep trying and other times he says we need a heavenly muse to whisper in our ear. The first two parts are definitely worth reading, but part three you can skip.

The War of Art Summary

Resistance is what keeps us from sitting down and doing our best work. Going from amateur to professional is the best way to fight resistance. The power to take charge is in your hands; all you have to do is believe it.

"It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write".

Book One Resistance

  • “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
  • "Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was 75. In other words, fear doesn't go away."
  • "The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work. The working artist banishes from her world all sources of trouble. She harnesses the urge for trouble and transforms it in her work."
  • “The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.”
  • “This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
  • “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
  • “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
  • "What finally convinced me to go ahead was simply that I was so unhappy not going ahead.'
  • "Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery"
  • "The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like."

Book Two Turning Pro

  • "The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps."
  • Principle of Priority:
  • a) You must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important
  • 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."
  • "Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously is paralyzes him."
  • "Technically, the professional takes money. Technically, the pro play for pay. But in the end, he does it for love."
  • "A pro views her work as craft, not art."
  • "The professional is sly. He knows by toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back." -> Creativity is not just some sort of flash of brilliance but a ton of hard work.
  • "A professional does not take failure (or success) personally." ->Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this a lot. If you let the praise go to your head, the same will happen with the criticism, which can be 10 times more damaging.
  • "He reminds himself it's better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot."
  • "If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance on ourselves. We're less subjective." -> Putting on different suits. -> [[How to Have Infinite Energy]]

Book Three The Higher Realm

  • "The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying."
  • "We're all creative. we all have the same psyche. The same everyday miracles are happening in all our heads day by day, minute by minute."
  • "If Arnold Schwarzenegger were the last man on earth, he'd still go to the gym, Stevie Wonder would still pound the piano."
  • "We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause."

Liked this post? Get articles, recommendations,
and insights straight to your inbox.