Book Summary: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

My Personal Summary

“Resistance” is the invisible force that prevents us from getting our most important work done.

In general, the more important a piece of work is to our own development, the more Resistance we will face.

Resistance is not something that goes away either; we must fight it each day when we choose to sit down and work on our art.

Book Notes

  • The Resistance is the invisible force that prevents us from getting our most important work done.
  • The Resistance comes in many forms – TV, social media, sex, meetings, emails, less important tasks, and other distractions. 
  • “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.”
  • Resistance never goes away. We must fight it each day.
  • Creating distractions and drama is an easy way to rationalize putting something off until later.
  • “As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls. In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture. We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle. We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.”
  • “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”
  • “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
  • “The instinct that pulls us toward art is the impulse to evolve, to learn, to heighten and elevate our consciousness. The Ego hates this. Because the more awake we become, the less we need the Ego. The Ego hates it when the awakening writer sits down at the typewriter. The Ego hates it when the aspiring painter steps up before the easel.”
  • Developing the ability to work through drudgery is crucial to doing good work. You don’t always feel like you’re in the mood to work on your craft. Do it anyway.
  • Do not rely on external validation. 
  • Everyone struggles with Resistance. You are not alone. The way to separate yourself from others, though, is to push beyond Resistance. Choose to do the hard work.
  • Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.
  • “Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”
  • “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.”
  • Amateurs only work when they feel inspired. Professionals work every day.
  • “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
  • “The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: 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. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

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