Steven Pressfield: the Big Jump from Zero to Hero

 

The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – by Steven Pressfield

For the novelist Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance; Gates of Fire) The War of Art is his first nonfiction work. What is the main purpose of this book?

Through The War of Art, Steven Pressfield is trying to inspire artists from various fields: writers, musicians, painters, etc, and also anyone else who’s attempting to be involved in the creative processes.


OVERCOME BOUNDARIES / THE WAR OF ART

There is no art without inner war, because artists are more than destiny’s soldiers.


Temptation – Fear. Impetus to create – Resignation. Curiosity to try – Desertion. Initiative – Self-doubt.

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Between inspiration and talent there is an almost human love. And if this love is not strong enough, there will be no Art. But what is happening when love is real, strong and powerful?

“When inspiration touches talent, she gives birth to truth and beauty.”

Steven Pressfield When inspiration touches talent, she gives birth to truth and beauty

To write a book. To play a song. To paint a picture. What stands between you and the way to achieve all of this?

Maybe it’s some kind of cowardice. Or, maybe you’re just blind, unable to go all the way in the process of introspection.

“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.”

So, it’s the right time for a change. It’s the right time for a challenge.

How come? Because with this book Steven Pressfield placed a mirror right in front of you. A mirror that you can’t ignore. So, you can’t look elsewhere.

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.”

The War of Art is a voice from inside. The main piece of our self-consciousness, the desperate cry for achievement. And this voice is struggling to express itself and to fight against Resistance.

Let’s imagine that there is no book. Imagine that this is a debate. A debate between two main characters: The YesterdayMe – a representative generic name for any of us, and The Author – Steven Pressfield. A debate about enemies and friends. About art and hobbies. About professional and amateurs.

And, as in any debate, we should start with a statement:

“Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now. Steven Pressfield B

YesterdayMe’s approach: Boldness sometimes means irrational. Magic means dreaming. The power is only in the things you can control and touch.

The author’s argument: Boldness means courage. Rationalizing everything sometimes means cowardice. It’s easy to find an excuse. It’s difficult to be part of the game. But what is really sad is to live your life only as a spectator.

“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”

First question:  If we are talking about War, that means we should also talk about enemies. Who are those enemies?

The YestardayMe’s answer: Time is my enemy. Fear is my enemy. And also Self-doubt.

The author’s answer: Time, fear and self-doubt are our allies.

The artists are out of time. The time was not looking for the artist. The time and the artist are in perfect antithesis.

“It is a commonplace among artists and children at play that they’re not aware of time or solitude while they’re chasing their vision.”

Fear is the boldness’ engine. Fear is a sign of our vitality. The main indicator that we are still breathing. Fear is the sign that we still react to the stimulus of creativity.

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”

Self-doubt is the natural result of consciousness. It is our responsibility to turn self-doubt into an enemy or an ally.

 “Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it.”

The real enemy is Resistance. By definition, Resistance is self-sabotage. It is always lying. And if you think that it is real “Resistance will bury you”.

“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.”

Second question: Where is the boundary line between professional and amateurs? Is this line visible enough?

The YesterdayMe’s answer: There is no line, no boundaries. It’s all about talent. You either have it, or you don’t. If you have it, you can call yourself lucky. If not, this is not your destiny. You can become an amateur at best.

The author’s answer: If you call yourself an amateur, that means you don’t love this game enough. You didn’t master the technique of your art. You didn’t choose the courage to expose yourself to judgment in the real world.

You have to learn the lesson of success, to like happiness and to come as a by-product of work.

Are you too anxious? Arm yourself with patience. Keep yourself “from flaming out in each individual work”.

That’s the way to become a professional.

“The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.”

Third question: What do you need to become an artist? Talent? Perseverance? Intuition? Self-confidence?

The YesterdayMe’s answer: If you don’t have talent, there is no use to try it. This road won’t lead anywhere. Talent can substitute everything. It’s like a magic wand. One touch is enough to create a masterpiece. Work is for amateurs. Talent is for professionals.

The author’s answer: Avoiding to be who you are, to express yourself through art – this means to define yourself as a victim. Is that harmless? Is that innocent? This is almost a form of passive aggression.  It is like you are trying “to achieve gratification not by honest work or a contribution made out of one’s experience or insight or love, but by the manipulation of others through silent (and not-so-silent) threat.”

What really means in art is our availability to work.  Perseverance defines fabulous results.

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

Steven Pressfield.Because the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

Conclusion: it’s up to you if you want to become an artist, or not. Living your life, or just watching and admiring others – this decision is in your hands. It’s one thing to “study war and another to live the warrior’s life.”

Becoming an artist is about fight. In this war you should be the hero. Artists are warriors who love the battle without restraint.

“The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”


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