About the Book
This is another one of those that had been on my list for a while.
It’s been recommended by others, including Tim Ferriss, and such recommendations rarely disappoint. I had no idea what it was about though.
I was under the impression it might have something to do with war? And maybe how to plan the perfect, most beautiful attack? I know right; Detective Holmes has entered the building!
It turns out I was completely wrong.
It’s actually more to do with the creative process and how to overcome what Steven Pressfield calls ‘the resistance’. He explains it more clearly in the book but it’s basically anything that stops you from doing your creative work. Procrastination, illness, other people etc.
The War of Art is also pretty short despite being split into three separate books. I managed to blast through it in one afternoon.
There was so much to takeaway! Here are just a few of my highlights…
- “Like a magentised needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it wants to stop us from doing… We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.” Book 1: Resistance is infallible
- “The awakening artist must be ruthless, not only with herself but with others. Once you make your break, you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on the barbed wire. The best thing you can do for that friend (and he’d tell you this himself, if he really is your friend) is to get over the wall and keep motating.” Book 1: Resistance recruits allies
- “The acquisition of a condition lends significance to one’s existence.” Book 1: Resistance and victimhood
- “The professional has learned, however, that too much love can be a bad thing. Too much love can make him choke. The seeming detachment of the professional, the cold-blooded character to his demeanor, is a compensating device to keep him from loving the game so much that he freezes in action.” Book 2: For love of the game
- “The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality. Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will still be there facing the blank page.” Book 2: A professional self-validates
- “I have corporate stationery and corporate business cards… I write off corporate expenses and pay corporate taxes. I have different credit cards for myself and my corporation.// If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance to ourselves. We’re less subjective. We don’t take blows as personally. We’re more cold-blooded… Sometimes, as Joe Blow himself, I’m too mild-mannered to go out and sell. But as Joe Blow, Inc., I can pimp the hell out of myself. I’m not me anymore. I’m Me, Inc. I’m a pro.” Book 2: You, Inc.
- “Again, they’re common as dirt. So is the sunrise. That doesn’t make it any less a miracle.” Book 3: Largo
What Others Are Saying
I really enjoyed the majority of this book. There was some stuff, though, which seemed a little airy-fairy to me.
First, let’s look at the pros.
Books 1 and 2 are fantastic! They’re really punchy, and I love the idea of choosing to go professional rather than sticking with being an amateur. Turning yourself into a company (Me, Inc.) to distance yourself from your work is also genius.
Lots of good takeaways here.
In terms of the cons, it’s basically just book 3.
I didn’t dig it at all. I thought I found some of it quite interesting as I was going through it for the first time, but having reflected on it to write this post, I realise I can’t actually remember anything of what was being said. Something to do with fairies and angels and muses I think?
It was just a bit weird.
All in all, though, a really interesting read and one which will probably give you a good kick up the bum, particularly if you’re working in a creative field.