Goktug Yilmaz's Reviews > The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
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3 Keys:
- 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.
- Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can’t sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash.
- 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.

Resistance:
- There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t: 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.
- Resistance: Destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that’s actually good. Like self-sabotage, self-deception, self-corruption. Writers know it as “block,”.
- Fight vs Resistance: Preparation, order, patience, endurance, acting in the face of fear and failure—no excuses, no bullshit. Focus on mastery of the craft.
- Hitler wanted to be an artist. At 18 he took his inheritance, 700 kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
- Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Any of these will elicit Resistance.
- Sometimes Resistance takes the form of sex, drugs, shopping, masturbation, TV, gossip, alcohol, and the consumption of all products containing fat, sugar, salt, or chocolate. It knows it has distracted us with a cheap, easy fix and kept us from doing our work.
- Resistance loves pride and preciousness. Resistance says, “Show me a writer who’s too good to take Job X and I’ll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut.”

The Professional:
- Technically, the professional takes money. Technically, the pro plays for pay. But in the end, he does it for love.
- The professional understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.
- The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality.
- The professional understands: The field is level, only in heaven.
- The professional is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage. The professional understands that Resistance is fertile and ingenious. It will throw stuff at him that he’s never seen before.
- The professional prepares mentally to absorb blows and to deliver them. His aim is to take what the day gives him. He is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can. He understands that the field alters every day. His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his insides, as sturdily and steadily as he can.
- The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality. Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will still be there facing the blank page. Nothing matters but that he keep working. The professional shows up, ready to serve the gods.
- The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: the supreme compliment. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.
- The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.

Notes:
- To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.
- The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
- We’re not born with unlimited choices. We can’t be anything we want to be. We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
- 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. We know what the clan is; we know how to fit into the band and the tribe. What we don’t know is how to be alone. We don’t know how to be free individuals.
- Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
- The artist must be like a 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. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.
- If we were the last person on earth, would we still show up at the studio, the rehearsal hall, the laboratory?
- We are servants of the Mystery. We were put here on earth to act as agents of the Infinite, to bring into existence that which is not yet, but which will be, through us.
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Reading Progress

May 16, 2017 – Shelved
May 16, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
June 9, 2017 – Shelved as: audio
September 9, 2018 – Started Reading
September 12, 2018 – Finished Reading

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