The War of Art Summary (Part 1)

Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle

Many activities draw out resistance, such as art, business, diet, learning, commitment, and courageous acts. Things that don’t produce immediate results create resistance in people. Resistance is negative energy that pushes us away and comes from within. Resistance lies to and tricks people. It is persistent and part of nature, meaning it isn’t out to get anyone personally. Resistance shows up strongly during important calls of action.

Fear doesn’t go away no matter how much time passes and must be faced daily. Resistance is empowered by fear. Resistance emerges when one is about to pursue a calling.

The story of Odysseus reminds us how it’s essential to be vigilant for resistance at the end, for that’s when it’s at its strongest. Just when Odysseus was about to reach his hometown, he took a nap while the winds of adversity escaped from a bag, and Odysseus’s ship was taken back into the ocean. He had to start over. It took him a long time to get home, and he suffered a lot.

When a writer begins gaining traction, other people around them may start to act unusually. These people are chafing against the writer’s resistance and the fact that the writer beat it. Artists are there to inspire and serve others.

Procrastination is a form of resistance too, and it tends to be a lifelong habit. People have the power to change their destiny if they can fight resistance. Immediate gratification or gratifying activities are forms of resistance.

A cheap way to obtain attention is to seek out trouble. Trouble can be poor health, drug use, mess-ups, and other methods of drawing attention to the self. Dedicated artists get rid of all trouble in their lives because it’s too distracting and prevents them from achieving their goals. Some people, even families, are addicted to drama, a form of

resistance that obstructs work from getting done. Anxiety and depression are forms of resistance, too, in some instances. Most health conditions aren’t actually health related. A health condition is a form of art that replaces real art, and acting like a victim is a form of aggression because the “victim” holds other people hostage and threatens to make their life worse in some cases.

People sometimes unconsciously pick mates who have successfully overcome their resistance and are pursuing their creative goals. The resistant partner may deal with an unlived life, while the productive partner should encourage the resistant one to live their life.

Steven Pressfield dealt with a lot of resistance when writing this book but finally took action when he was unhappy. Resistance creates a low-grade feeling of unhappiness. At its worst, it can lead to self-destruction and crime.

Both artists and fundamentalists ask who they are and the meaning of life. People’s position in life was fixed in ancient times, so they didn’t have to question their identity much. People are tribal by nature and don’t always know how to be individualists. Artists exist in a society or class that can afford self-examination. At the same time, fundamentalists believe the truth has already been spoken by God, and it’s not something that has to be discovered in the future. Fundamentalism is a thinking mode of the powerless. Fundamentalists live in the glory of the past. The resistance of fundamentalists is called sin, and they want to return to a purer world. Humanity may not be ready for the freedom that humanists believe in. People must rule themselves, or else others will rule over them. People who criticize others are likely not living whole lives themselves. Real innovators or artists are scared, not overly confident.

Fear is also a form of resistance, and fear is an indicator of what must be done. The more opposition someone faces, the more likely it is that they are facing an important project or work of art. Professionals focus on work, not on the reward. Artists at play are never alone, and time flies by when they work.

Pressfield realized he was not alone while working by himself. Fictional characters are fascinating to writers because they represent a better or bolder version of themselves.

The creative part of ourselves can’t be negatively touched by the outside world because it’s powerful. Pressfield was so resistant to writing that one day he sat down and wrote something he considered inadequate but was still satisfied that he took action. He even had the energy to wash a huge pile of dishes afterward. “Healing” can be a form of resistance even though true healing is necessary. Going to workshops can create resistance. Pressfield’s friend Carol dreamed she was a passenger on a bus where Bruce Springsteen was the driver. Carol became the driver of the bus in the dream, and this action is a symbol of taking charge of her life.

What are you resisting in your life, and how does it impact you? Share your thoughts.

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