• Julianna Sweeney

The War Of Art | Steven Pressfield

I read this book about two years ago now.


I remember it being good but it wasn't until I sat down to write this blog post and started revisiting my key takeaways that the memory gates opened up - I actually just texted Tyler, as I'm writing this, that I'm gonna have to revisit this book soon! It is such an important reminder to every creative of the importance of sharing the gifts you've been given and the power of consistency and perseverance in your field.


Pressfield lays everything out clearly and bluntly. It was a real wakeup call for me just reading through the takeaways and I can't wait to jump back in and take it all in again. I can't recommend this book enough for all creatives!


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

  • “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. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

  • “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

  • “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

  • “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.”

  • “This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. 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. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

  • “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.”

  • "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.”

  • “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.”

  • “Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”

  • “Someone once asked Somerset Maughham 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.”

  • “Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

  • “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.”

  • “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.”

  • “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 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.”

  • “Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.”


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.

I've struggled with my confidence as a songwriter for some time now - it comes and goes in phases. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure I've ever admitted that aloud before, but it's true. This book has given me the tools to work through and overcome those moments.


I hope that it offers you the same value. Enjoy! And let me know what you think in the comments below!


Sending love always,

J.S.


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