The War on Art - by Stephen Pressfield



my notes:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn't write, a painter who doesn't paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.

The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we're about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it's got.

The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.

Many pedestrians have been maimed or killed at the intersection of Resistance and Commerce.

It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarefied for us to breathe.

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.

The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.

The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too. If you didn't love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn't feel anything.

The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.

The part we create from can't be touched by anything our parents did, or society did. That part is unsullied, uncorrupted; soundproof, waterproof, and bulletproof. In fact, the more troubles we've got, the better and richer that part becomes.

The part that needs healing is our personal life. Personal life has nothing to do with work.

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.

When your deeper Self delivers a dream like that, don't talk about it. Don't dilute its power. The dream is for you. It's between you and your Muse. Shut up and use it.

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist.

The amateur has not mastered the technique of his art. Nor does he expose himself to judgment in the real world.

Nothing is as empowering as real-world validation, even if it's for failure.

That was when I realized I had become a pro. I had not yet had a success. But I had had a real failure.

To the gods the supreme sin is not rape or murder, but pride.

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.

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.

Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance.

Have you ever wondered why the slang terms for intoxication are so demolition-oriented? Stoned, smashed, hammered. It's because they're talking about the Ego. It's the Ego that gets blasted, waxed, plastered. We demolish the Ego to get to the Self.

We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are.

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.

It can pay off, being a hack. Given the depraved state of American culture, a slick dude can make millions being a hack. But even if you succeed, you lose, because you've sold out your 

Muse, and your Muse is you, the best part of yourself, where your finest and only true work comes from.

Remember, as artists we don't know diddly. We're winging it every day. For us to try to second-guess our Muse the way a hack second-guesses his audience is condescension to heaven. It's blasphemy and sacrilege.

Instead let's ask ourselves like that new mother: What do I feel growing inside me? Let me bring that forth, if I can, for its own sake and not for what it can do for me or how it can advance my standing.


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.