The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
by Steven Pressfield
The key word through-out ‘The War of Art’ is ‘Resistance’ – i.e. that which prevents us from doing.
Steven Pressfield’s advice is to sit down and do it like a pro.
That’s the book in two lines.
Professionals and amateurs
‘The word amateur from the Latin root meaning 'to love'.
The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does if for money.
Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his real vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time’. Pressfield (2002)
This is familiar territory.
I heard it first from Richard Nelson E Bolles in ‘What Color’s Your Parachute?’ (New editions most years 1970-2011)
His advice is:
‘You become a professional by behaving like one.’ Bolles (1970)
Pressfield is derogatory about amateurs who toy with their art and blame the way they toy around for their failure.
‘We're all Pros already’ he encourages us to believe.
‘Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him’. Pressfield (2002)
A Professional is patient
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 over ambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can't sustain that level of intensity.
We will hit the wall. We will crash.
‘A professional accepts no excuses’ Pressfield (2002)
He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.
‘A professional does not take failure (or success) personally’ Pressfield (2002)
Resistance uses fear of rejection to paralyse us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation.
‘Starting is not my problem.' Pressfield (2002)
Starting something else is my problem. Being distracted is my problem.
I need to be behave like a professional BECAUSE I am not paid ... and then I will be.
Pressfield, S (2002) The War of Art.