BOOK SUMMARIES

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Book:  The War of Art

Author:  Steven Pressfield

Purchase:  PrinteBookAudiobook

Citation:  Pressfield, S. (2012). The war of art : break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. New York, NY: Black Irish Entertainment, LLC.

Big Takeaways & Key Ideas:​
 

When I start making types, I know I'm getting tired. That's four hours or so. I've hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap up for the day. I power down. It's three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don't care. Are they any good? I don't even think about it. All that matters if 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 Reisistance. (pg. iv)

The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we're about to to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshalls one last assault and slams us with everything it's got. The professional must be alert for this counterattack. Be wary at the end. Don't open that bag of wind. (pg. 18)

Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance. Why put in years of work designing a new software interface when you can get just as much attention by bringing home a boyfriend with a prison record? Sometimes entire families participate unconsciously in a culture of self-dramatization. The kids fuel the tanks, the grown-ups arm the phasers, the whole starship lurches from one spine-tingling episode to another. And the crew knows how to keep it going. If the level of drama drops below a certain threshold, someone jumps in to amp it up. Dad gets drunk, Mom gets sick, Janie shows up to church with a tattoo. It's more fun than a movie. And it works: Nobody gets a damn thing done. (pg. 25)

As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution. In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture. We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, and TV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle. We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income on junk, but only by doing our work. (pg. 32)

If you find yourself criticizing other people, you're probably doing it out of Resistence. 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 Resistence, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well. (pg. 38)

Friends sometime ask, "Don't you get lonely sitting by yourself all day?" At first it seemed odd to hear myself answer no. Then I realize that I was not alone; I was in the book; I was with the characters. I was with my Self. Even in a book like this, which has no characters, I don't feel alone because I'm imagining the reader, whom I conjure as an aspiring artist much like my own younger, less grizzled self, to whom I hope to impart a little inspiration and prime, a little, with some hard-knocks wisdom and a few tricks of the trade. (pg. 46)

The professional understands delayed gratification. It is impossible to pull off the big score without pain and without persistence. 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 takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality. He conserves his energy. He prepares his mind for the long haul. (pg. 75)

When I finish a day's work, I head up into the hills for a hike. I take a tape recorder with me because I know that as my surface mind empties with the walk, another part of me will chime in and start talking. "That word 'leer' on page 342 ... it should be "ogle." That's the kind of stuff that comes. It comes to all of us, every day, every minute. These paragraphs I'm writing now were dictated to me yesterday; they replace a prior, weaker opening to this chapter. This process of self-revision and self-correction is so common we don't even notice. But it's a miracle. And its implications are staggering. (pg. 125)