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

You can win the war. The author introduces the idea of resistance. The professional focuses on the craft. It is possible to stir your creative side. Once you have done your shift, stop and rest.

How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve 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. – Steven Pressfield

There’s a secret that wannabe writers don’t know, and the secret is this: 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. – Steven Pressfield

We have all quit in different periods of our lives. Resistance is the most toxic force on Earth. It is very difficult to kill resistance. It defeats all of us. There is a need to be careful. Hitler wanted to be an artist but failed due to resistance.

Resistance has its greatest hits and it usually involves any difficult tasks. Resistance is invisible, internal, insidious, implacable, impersonal, infallible, universal. It never sleeps, it plays for keeps. Resistance is fuelled by fear and only opposes in one direction. It is the most powerful at the finish line and it will recruit allies. It is a repelling force. Resistance is internal. It is self-generated. It will assume any form. It doesn’t give up. It is an objective force of nature. The more important the task is, the more we will feel it. Everyone is affected by it. It is a constant battle. Others will try to sabotage you. Learn to recognize the symptoms of resistance. Procrastination is a manifestation of resistance. Resistance and sex are linked because they all give us immediate and powerful gratification. The same goes with other vices like masturbation, TV, gossip, alcohol etc. Trouble and resistance are also closely linked with one another. Don’t just consume a product. Don’t get sucked into consumerism. Don’t cast yourself as a victim. Don’t simply be happy if your spouse manages to overcome resistance but not you. Just go ahead and start writing, don’t think too much. Resistance causes unhappiness and guilt. Free yourself from commercial culture.

These are not easy questions. Who am I? Why am I here? They’re not easy because the human being isn’t wired to function as an individual. We’re wired tribally, to act as part of a group. – Steven Pressfield

Fundamentalism is the despair of freedom. Sadly, that is how modern life is now. He is someone who retreats to the past. Fundamentalism vs Humanist. When you see others defeating resistance, you become jealous and criticize them. On the contrary, one should learn to encourage others. Self-doubt can be good as it is an indicator of aspiration.

Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. – Steven Pressfield

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. – Steven Pressfield

Resistance is proportional to love. The greater the resistance, the greater the joy upon completion. You are never alone in your work. Courage will keep you company. Time flies when you are having fun. You are never alone when writing. You are together with the characters you have imagined or even with the potential readers that will be present. Do not think that you need to be ‘healed’ before you can write. Our personal lives need healing, not our work. Any support you receive won’t last forever, although it is nice to have. A dream is real support. Do not rationalize it. Resistance likes to give excuses on why we can’t do our work. However, it’s not a good reason for not doing your work. Learn to make time. The good news is that resistance can be beaten.

Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gathered around at your deathbed. It’s nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock waving goodbye. –  Steven Pressfield

Professional is another ideal and is different from being an amateur. Play for keeps. Dedicate your whole life to it. Set a fixed time of the day for writing. Keep plugging away. The Marine Corps taught the author how to be miserable. You will need to get used to ridicule etc. You have to love feeling miserable. There are some qualities of work that are highly valued: ‘Showing up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day, committed over the long haul, stakes are high, accept remuneration for work, not over identifying with jobs, we master the techniques, we have a sense of humor, receive praise or blame.’

Playing the game for money will produce a professional attitude. A professional is patient. He understands delayed gratification. Conserve your energy for the long haul. There is no need to be super enthusiastic at the start. A professional seeks order. Eliminate chaos from your life. A professional demystifies. Concentrate on technique more than creativity. A professional acts in the face of fear. A professional accepts no excuses. The field will be altered all day. Handle yourself steadily. A professional doesn’t show off. Always strive for self-improvement and ask for help. Do not take success or failure personally. The only enemy is resistance. A professional endures adversity and self-validates. Do not allow the actions of others to define your reality. Reinvent yourself. Create a Myself.Inc. Think of yourself as a corporation. It will be easier for you to keep going.

The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come. – Steven Pressfield

Because the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose. – Steven Pressfield

Ideas come when we keep working. This is the secret that most people don’t know. Fight the dragon. Invoke the Muse and call forth a force from a holier place. We can learn from the Greek Gods. Creativity can hit you anytime, for instance, when you are in a shower etc. Thoughts are very powerful. Our Self incorporates the Personal and Collective Unconscious. Dreams come our Self. It is always the fight between the Self and the Ego. The ego likes things to remain as status quo. The Self believes in God, death as an illusion, time and space as illusions, all beings as one etc. The Ego produces resistance. We fear a lot of things but the main fear is the fear that whether you can succeed. Everyone is born with a unique personality. We have our own destiny. Find your true calling. There is a problem with the hierarchical orientation when it gets too big. A lot of people evaluate themselves based on where they stand and their position. Do not look to others to validate your calling. You must do your work territorially. Be outward facing. The hack only writes what the audience wants to hear. The Hack does not produce truly authentic work stemming from the Self. Territory provides sustenance; it can only be claimed alone; it can be claimed by work; it returns exactly what you put in. There is no need to seek the good opinion of others. Ask yourself: ‘If I were the last person on Earth, would I still do it?’ Find your territory.

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