ethanessig May/ 19/ 2018 | 0

“Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. 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.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The War of Art is one of those books, you know, the one everyone on a podcast or youtube channel recommends. I came by this book the same way I did with Man’s Search for Meaning. From the book Tribe of Mentors, which has many great book recommendations (I assume because I have not read them all)

I do not want this post to be a series of quotes. You can read the book for that so we will focus on the impact to myself. To do this, I will break down each section of the book from front to back.


Pressfield kicks the book off with talking about Resistance. The chief thing that keeps us from getting the work done. Resistance comes from within us, so we have to understand that struggle. Resistance is anything that takes us in the opposite direction of what the work needs. That is why Resistance isn’t just Fear, but literally, anything that pulls us from our passion.

This is a hard section to articulate because Pressfield presents the idea of Resistance so thoroughly, I feel like reading the book is the only way to fully grasp it. I will end this section with the top three things I focus on in regards to Resistance:

1. Resistance feeds on self-doubt and fear. Use those moments as a realization that you are on the right path. Pressfield emphasizes the real creators are scared to death. I take that as a good sign.
2. “Cruelty to others is a form of Resistance, as is the willing endurance of cruelty from others.” Our relationships with other beings are discussed at length in this first section. How we act towards our fellow humans is a significant indicator of our path. Cultivate and create with others, or spend time judging because it makes you forget about internal struggles. Something anyone needs to focus on daily.
3. My path as an artist or creator begins with Discipline. Discipline to wake up early, to make time, to keep pushing past resistance to my work.

Being a Pro:

Pressfield gives us all the info we need on knowing what Resistance is, but now he teaches us how to beat it. In the second section, Pressfield explains to us what it means to be a Professional.

This section is not about being an artist as a profession, but more about mindset. Having the mentality of an armature is really a form of resistance. It is a limitation we put on ourselves, and there for our work. I will stick to them and provide the top three takeaways from this section of the book.

1. A pro does operate on a schedule. I have to plan to fit the work in. There is no hoping it happens. Wake up with specific goals in mind. That is the mentality of a pro.
2. “The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.” I love this quote because it is a truth we don’t often hear. There is always suffering in growth. We won’t automatically be perfect and won’t be taken seriously. This is only part of the process. Something to look forward to.
3. You, Inc: The idea of being your own company. It does not matter if you actually are, but it hits home the mindset of professionalism. Go from hobby to pro with what you are building.

Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm

This last section is the most beautiful part. Pressfield has taught us how to get our shit together. Now he takes us through the beautiful part of the work. Sitting down and doing the job eventually leads to that feeling of bliss. When we hit the mark on what we are working on. That is the moment that the long hours and sacrifice are for.

The last points of the book are to avoid the hierarchy of society when it comes to pursuing our art. For me, it would be not posting photos that I know will get more likes on Instagram, but posting the ones that best express the story I am trying to tell. Pressfield calls this operating territorially. We must do the work for our own sake.

Read the Book!!!

The War of Art is short and impactful. It gives the truth of what it takes to follow that thing that drives you inside, your purpose or muse. It isn’t bullshit. The words in the book prove that, but the lesson is coming from an artist who has done it all his life. Someone who has failed and succeeded time and time again. It is honest.

Fight your resistance. Treat yourself like a pro. Work toward your muse.

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