The War of Art
A great kick starter for stop messing around and get to work. It takes the idea of personal Resistance, and embodies it in a foe that needs to be fought every day. Sit down. Do the work. Inspiration isn't a thing that can be manufactured. It comes by doing the work. Brief, to the point, and no bullshit.
Objectifies the term Resistance and makes a foe out of it. The first part describes the various form Resistance can take. Big eye-opener.
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
We're wrong if we think we're the only ones struggling with Resistance. Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.
The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.
The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.
The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.
The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.
To combat the call of sin, i.e., Resistance, the fundamentalist plunges either into action or into the study of sacred texts. He loses himself in these, much as the artist does in the process of creation. The difference is that while the one looks forward, hoping to create a better world, the other looks backward, seeking to return to a purer world from which he and all have fallen.
Remember our 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.
So if you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.
The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.
Have you ever been to a workshop? These boondoggles are colleges of Resistance. They ought to give out Ph.D.'s in Resistance. What better way of avoiding work than going to a workshop?
I'm keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what's important first.
The professional masters how, and leaves what and why to the gods.
The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you're finished.
The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.
The pro keeps coming on. He beats Resistance at its own game by being even more resolute and even more implacable than it is.
Why have I stressed professionalism so heavily in the preceding chapters? Because the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.
When I finish a day's work, I head up into the hills for a hike. I take a pocket tape recorder because I know that as my surface mind empties with the walk, another part of me will chime in and start talking.
The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.
Here's another test. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
If Arnold Schwarzenegger were the last man on earth, he'd still go the gym. Stevie Wonder would still pound the piano. The sustenance they get comes from the act itself, not from the impression it makes on others.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.