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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

the War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I finished this book in November 2022. I recommend this book 7/10.

A practical guide on getting your mindset right and kicking yourself forward. Start thinking of yourself as a professional, not an amateur.

Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • P21. Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it's the easiest to rationalize. We don't tell ourselves, "I'm never going to write my symphony." Instead, we say, "I am going to write my symphony; I'm just going to start tomorrow."

  • P43. Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of Resistance. They're the sign of an amateur. 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.

  • P62. Aspiring artists defeated by Resistance share one trait. They all think like amateurs. They have not yet turned pro. To be clear: When I say professional, I don't mean doctors or lawyers, those of "the profession." I mean the Professional as an ideal. Consider the differences:

    • 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.

  • P64. Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. "I write only when inspiration strikes," he replied. "Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp." That's a pro. In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, "I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work."

  • P74. The writer is an infantryman. He knows that progress is measured in yards or dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time, and paid for in blood. The artist wears combat boots. He looks in the mirror and sees GI Joe. Remember, the Muse favors working stiffs. She hates prima donnas. To the gods, the supreme sin is not rape or murder but pride. To think of yourself as a mercenary, a gun for hire implants the proper humility. It purges pride and preciousness.

  • P80. The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you're finished. The pro doesn't even pick up the phone. He stays at work.

  • P84. The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He recognizes the contribution of those who have gone before him. He apprentices himself to them.

  • P89. The professional cannot let himself take humiliation personally. Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance. The professional endures adversity. He lets the birdshit splash down on his slicker, remembering that it comes clean with a heavy-duty hosing. His core is bulletproof. Nothing can touch it unless he lets it. The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not on the hole. 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.

  • P97. Making yourself a corporation (or just thinking of yourself in that way) reinforces the idea of professionalism because it separates the artist-doing-the-work from the will-and-consciousness-running-the-show. No matter how much abuse is heaped on the head of the former, the latter takes it in stride and keeps trucking.

  • P158. What would Arnold Schwarzenegger do on a freaky day? He wouldn't call his buddies; he'd head for the gym. He wouldn't care if the place was empty if he didn't say a word to a soul. He knows that working out, all by itself, is enough to bring him back to his center. If Arnold were the last man on earth, he would still go to the gym. Stevie Wonder would still pound the piano. The sustenance they get comes from the act itself, not from the impression it makes on others.

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