What is The War of Art About?
The War of Art inspires its readers to defeat "Resistance" - their one true foe that prevents them from being successful in creative professions. The War of Art highlights the forms of resistance faced by artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and others who are trying to break through creative barriers. The book not just identifies resistance as the "enemy", but it also provides a way to overcome these hurdles to achieve creative success. (The War of Art Summary)
The War of Art Quotes
[Favorite Quote]: “The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don't create the new life, they only bear it." (Meaning)
2. “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. "
3. "The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
4. “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. "
5. "The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
6. “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.”
7. “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.”
8. “Our job in this life 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.”
9. “The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work.”
10. “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”
11. “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.”
12. “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
13. “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. Do it or don't do it."
14. “The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.”
15. “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.”"
16. "When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. "
17. “Fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
18. "If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet."
19. “The artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don't believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life.”
20. "Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.”
21. “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.”
22. “We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. "
23. "We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know."
24. "Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul."
25. “Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is that it means there's tremendous love there too.”
26. “Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”
27. “It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."
28. "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"
29. “The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.”
30. “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."
31. “Nothing is as empowering as real-world validation, even if it's for failure.”
32. "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.”
33. "Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy. The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even if it's true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already.”
34. "The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
35. “How many pages have I produced? I don't care. Are they any good? I don't even think about it. All that matters is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got."
36. “The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: the supreme compliment."
37. “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.”
38. “The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery. The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work.”
39. “Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing"
40. “The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.”
41. “We're never alone. As soon as we step outside the campfire glow, our Muse lights on our shoulder like a butterfly. The act of courage calls for infallibly that deeper part of ourselves that supports and sustains us.”
42. “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.”
43. “The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable.”
44. “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.”
45. "The part of us that we imagine needs healing is not the part we create from; that part is far deeper and stronger. The part we create from can't be touched by anything our parents did, or society did."
46. “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. "
47. “The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He recognizes the contributions of those who have gone before him. "
48. “A victim act is a form of passive aggression. It seeks to achieve gratification not by honest work or a contribution made out of one's experience or insight or love, but by the manipulation of others through silent (and not-so-silent) threat. "
49. “The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.”
50. “Rationalization is Resistance's right-hand man. Its job is to keep us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work.”
51. “Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance.”
52. “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.”
53. “You’re supposed to learn that things that you think are nothing, as weightless as air, are actually powerful substantial forces, as real and as solid as earth. "
54. “The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.”
― Quotes from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Who is the author of The War of Art?
Steven Pressfield is an American author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays. He is a master of historical fiction with Gates of Fire being on the required reading list at West Point and the recommended reading list of the Joint Chiefs.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.