DBC - "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield
Druid’s Book Club
Quick Take: Do you finally want to write that book? Start that business? Let “The War of Art” give you the swift kick in the ass you need.
“The War of Art” is beyond amazing. Anyone wanting to get some type of creative work done and needs a quick kick in the butt, this is the book for you.
Steven Pressfield is the author of over 20 books (Most notably, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “Gates of Fire”). He has also written seven books on the process of writing. “The War of Art” is the most notable (Over a million copies sold!).
Here’s a quick and dirty summary of “The War of Art”:
The enemy of creativity is Resistance.
Resistance is an adversary of your creation that fights to keep you from accomplishing your purpose. Pressfield calls it “the most toxic force on the planet.” (Foreword)
Resistance manifests itself in devious tools like procrastination, rationalization, self-medication, sex, television, busy work, etc. (Insert any other favorite escape).
The more important the work, the stronger the Resistance will be.
The cure to Resistance is to leave your amateur life and Turn Pro.
The Pro shows up no matter what. The Pro doesn’t make excuses. The Pro doesn’t let criticism and humiliation destroy him. The Pro knows that fear cannot be overcome but moves forward despite it.
When we truly commit to Turning Pro, the Muse, the Universe, Angels, Inspiration (Call it whatever you like) will rally to push us toward our purpose.
Much of this book felt like it was written just for me. My goal is to write a book, but I can’t seem to get my act together. As I read how Resistance is an inner creation trying to stop us from doing great things, I immediately knew I had been self-sabotaging for years. I’ve been so scared of failure that I’ve found a thousand reasons not to sit down and write. I hope I can internalize this, throw out the excuses, and get to work. I probably need to add “The War of Art” to my annual reading list.
I loved “The Art of War” so much that I immediately read two other books in Pressfield’s writing series – “Turning Pro” and “Do the Work.” These didn't floor me the same way, but I would recommend them.
Do you finally want to write that book? Start that business? Lose that weight? Finish that pet project? Then let “The War of Art” give you the swift kick in the ass you need.
Some of My Favourite Quotes:
“Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work.
“…if you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”
“If Resistance couldn't be beaten, there would be no Fifth Symphony, no Romeo and Juliet, no Golden Gate Bridge. Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years.”
“What's important is the work. That's the game I have to suit up for. That's the field on which I have to leave everything I've got. Do I really believe that my work is crucial to the planet's survival? Of course not. But it's as important to me as catching that mouse is to the hawk circling outside my window. He's hungry. He needs a kill. So do I.”
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. … he forces himself forward in spite of his terror.”
“The professional … 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.”
“…the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.”