The War of Art

  • Tags: [[Conditions for Creativity]]

  • Author:: [[Steven Pressfield]]

  • Location 83:

    • the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write.
  • Location 106:

    • Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman's friends think she's crazy; she herself has never been happier. There's a postscript. Woman's cancer goes into remission.
      • Note: Must not let the privilege of my past break go to waste. I was able to experience what vision without a terminal illness -- don't let it go to waste.
  • Location 119:

    • You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
  • Location 557:

    • The professional has learned, however, that too much love can be a bad thing. Too much love can make him choke.
      • Note: Similar to a line by ex-Away employee: "Don't work for a brand of your dreams, it'll kill you"
  • Location 590:

    • She understands that all creative endeavor is holy, but she doesn't dwell on it. She knows if she thinks about that too much, it will paralyze her. So she concentrates on technique.
  • Location 594:

    • The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery. The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work.
  • Location 614:

    • I'm not talking about craft; that goes without saying. The professional is prepared at a deeper level. He is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage.
  • Location 728:

    • I have corporate stationery and corporate business cards and a corporate checkbook. 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 on ourselves. We're less subjective. We don't take blows as personally.
      • Note: I like the idea from an execution/independence perspective, but hate the sound of "Incorporate myself"
  • Location 731:

    • We're more cold-blooded; we can price our wares more realistically. 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.
  • Location 802:

    • I never did find a buyer for the book. Or the next one, either. It was ten years before I got the first check for something I had written and ten more before a novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was actually published.
      • Note: Patience for long-term is crucial, but also really difficult to build
  • Location 889:

    • Angels are like muses. They know stuff we don't. They want to help us. They're on the other side of a pane of glass, shouting to get our attention. But we can't hear them. We're too distracted by our own nonsense.
      • Note: Too much noise to hear our inner voice
  • Location 1108:

    • I learned this from Robert McKee. A hack, he says, is a writer who second-guesses his audience. When the hack sits down to work, he doesn't ask himself what's in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for. The hack condescends to his audience. He thinks he's superior to them. The truth is, he's scared to death of them or, more accurately, scared of being authentic in front of them, scared of writing what he really feels or believes, what he himself thinks is interesting. He's afraid it won't sell. So he tries to anticipate what the market (a telling word) wants, then gives it to them. In other words, the hack writes hierarchically. He writes what he imagines will play well in the eyes of others. He does not ask himself, What do I myself want to write? What do I think is important? Instead he asks, What's hot, what can I make a deal for? The hack is like the politician who consults the polls before he takes a position. He's a demagogue. He panders.
  • Location 1121:

    • the book succeeded critically and commercially better than anything I'd ever done, and others since have been lucky too. Why? My best guess is this: I trusted what I wanted, not what I thought would work. I did what I myself thought was interesting, and left its reception to the gods.
  • Location 1162:

    • Here's another test. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
  • Location 1163:

    • If you're all alone on the planet, a hierarchical orientation makes no sense. There's no one to impress.
  • Location 1176:

    • When Krishna instructed Arjuna that we have a right to our labor but not to the fruits of our labor, he was counseling the warrior to act territorially, not hierarchically. We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.

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