My notes from Part 2 of Steven Pressfield’s modern classic The War of Art.
It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.
-Telamon of Arcadia
“Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’ clock sharp.’” (79)
The Principle of Priority – you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and you must do what is important first.
The first movie Steven Pressfield ever wrote was horrible and was a commercial failure. However, in retrospect Pressfield has an interesting perspective on it; “That was when I realized I had become a pro. I had not yet had a success. But I had had a real failure.” (87)
Pressfield argues that being overly emotionally invested in your work is more characteristic of an amateur than a professional. Regardless of your enthusiasm for the project, Pressfield insists that an in-it-for-the-money mindset produces the professional attitude necessary to get things done: the “lunch pail-mentality”, the “hard-hat state of mind” that shows up no matter what and slugs it out day after day.
“The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work.” (90)
“(The professional) respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.” (95)
“The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished. The pro doesn’t even pick up the phone. He stays at work.”
“(The professional) understands that the field alters every day. His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his insides, as sturdily and steadily as he can.” (97)
“The student of the game knows that the levels of revelation that can unfold in gold, as in any art, are inexhaustible.” (100)
“(A professional) does not identify with (their) instrument. It is simply what God gave her, what she has to work with. She assesses it coolly, impersonally, objectively.” (101)
“We cannot let external criticism, even if it’s true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already.” (102-3)
“Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance.” (104)
In a situation where you are the recipient of some negative external force, Pressfield urges us to “maintain our sovereignty over the moment.” (107)