I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art yesterday. It was easily the most valuable book I’ve read this year. If producing any form of creative work is important to you I’d highly recommend you get a hold of a copy. In the meantime, however, here are some key takeaways.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Pretty self-explanatory. Whatever scares you the most is probably the most important thing for you to face.
“Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.”
If you’re afraid to do something you often won’t admit your afraid of it. You’ll instead make rationalizations of why doing something can wait or why it isn’t important to do something at all.
“The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not the hole. He reminds himself it’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”
It’s better to face difficult challenges for your passion than be a spectator for other people’s dreams.
“The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: the supreme compliment. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.”
Haters deliver the most criticism to that which they’re too afraid to do themselves.
“Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”
Perhaps the best question to ask yourself when searching for your passion. Also a key question in general to living a fulfilling life.
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”
I realized this when I entered middle school and began learning how to socialize and solidified my understanding of this when I started the community here. I think this is something that holds a lot of people back.
While I will add that you can desensitize yourself to fear, I think Pressfield is correct in what he’s saying. Success is rarely the result of being unafraid. Success is the result of feeling fear and taking action anyway.
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”
Although I’ve found this to be particularly true in writing I think it applies to any other creative endeavor as well. The most important thing to long-term success in your craft is consistently setting aside time for it and showing up.
Again, it’s an incredible book. I don’t make a lot of product recommendations because I know you’re busy, but I think this one is worth your time. Check it out.
Written almost two weeks ago. Published it now because I didn’t have anything else written. I’ve been in a big slump lately. I know, ironic giving I just recommended a book about consistently producing. I guess it’s time I get back on my feet, and bust out of this weird haze.
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