The War of Art Summary (Part 2)

Part. 2 Combating Resistance; Turning Pro

What distinguishes pros from amateurs:

  • professionals consider their work as a long-term vocation
  • professionals show up every day
  • The professional loves his profession and commits full time
  • professionals schedule time to do work rather than waiting for inspiration

Principle of priority: Do the most critical task first and know the difference between an urgent and essential task.

Pressfield says Marine Corps teach their recruits how to be unhappy, an excellent skill for artists. Artists subject themselves to isolation, rejection, self-doubt, and much more misery.

Here is what we can learn from our present job or profession:

  • how to show up daily
  • how to show up no matter what
  • how to work all-day
  • commitment in the long run
  • appreciation for the high stakes
  • acceptance or remuneration
  • the realization that we are separate from our jobs and have lives outside of work
  • how to have humor about work and specific techniques for getting the work done
  • how to receive criticism and praise

We mostly do all of the above at our job, and amateur artists should note this since they’re not likely to do any of these things. It took Pressfield 17 years to get his first professional writing job. When the movie that Pressfield wrote for came out, it wasn’t a blockbuster, and he was childless and divorced at the time. Pressfield realized this was his first absolute failure which made him a pro. Professional artists have a cold detachment from their work and don’t get obsessed with money. Professional artists eliminate the chaos in their physical environment to eliminate the clutter in their minds, so Pressfield cleaned out his van when he lived in it. Professionals know that fear will always be there while amateurs don’t.

Professionals know that resistance is always there and know not to give in. And they know there will be adversity and injustice because they live in the real world, and it’s not an even playing field. Pros are prepared and are ready to take on whatever the day and resistance give them. Professionals also aren’t show-offs and are committed to mastering the craft and techniques of their profession.

Even Tiger Woods sought out more knowledge and instruction, which is something that an amateur wouldn’t do.

Professionals don’t identify with their creation tools and have a more objective perspective. The fear of rejection is rooted in biology and goes back to tribal days, and resistance often immobilized people by playing on their fears. Rejection shouldn’t be taken to heart since it’s not the goblin, but resistance is. The Bhagavad-Gita says that we have a right to work but not the right to the profits of our work. Criticism can help one grow when a person uses it to improve one’s work, not resist the work. Humiliation reflects resistance within a person’s mind and heart, so don’t take humiliation personally. Resistance gets its power from fear. Professionals also don’t allow others’ actions or inaction to get in the way of doing their work. Becoming a professional starts with the decision to become one and viewing oneself as a professional.

Sometimes criticism is a form of cynical compliment. Professionals know they are experts at one thing and seek help from professionals who excel at other domains. Creative people may be creative in more than one creative endeavor in a lifetime or have more than one creative role.

Pressfield meets with himself every Monday and prepares a worksheet with his assignments. He encourages artists to incorporate themselves to create a healthy distance between you, the artist, and you, the person. The writing contracts of many screenwriters in Los Angeles are incorporated in service of themselves.

What has your experience with resistance been like?

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