The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles is written by Seven Pressfield. Written in 2002, I just discovered this book this year.
IF you’re a procrastinator, this book is for you. IF you’re a creative person stuck in the body of a procrastinator, read this book.
IF you’re constantly giving excuses about why you haven’t worked hard enough or achieved success, this book is for you.
He calls procrastination (or whatever is keeping you from success) RESISTANCE.
I’ve read this book multiple times now and I learn something new each time.
This is a short little book, and each page is only a paragraph. You could read the whole thing in a few hours. It’s divided into 3 sections:
(1) Resistance – Defining the Enemy;
(2) Combating Resistance – Turning Pro; and
(3) Beyond Resistance – The Higher Realm.
Here are some of my favourite quotes:
On Resistance and Procrastination
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. (page 22)
On Resistance and Criticism:
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own.
Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. Watch yourself. Of all the manifestations of Resistance, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well. (page 38)
On How to be Miserable
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell. (page 68)
On Professionals and Amateurs
The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it’s his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.
The professional loves his vocation so much he dedicates his life to it. he commits full-time. That’s why I mean when I say turning pro. Resistance hates it when we turn pro. (page 62-63)
On Resistance and Support
Have you ever been to a workshop? They ought to give out PhD’s in Resistance. What better way of avoiding work than going to a workshop? But what I hate even worse is the word support.
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.
Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business. (page 51)