Notes & Quotes: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The following are my favorite quotes from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  Numbered for convenience.
  1. The office is closed.  How many pages have I produced?  I don't care.  Are they any good?  I don't even think about it.  All that matters is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got.  All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.
  2. I have overcome Resistance.
  3. Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet.
  4. Resistance defeats us.
  5. You think Resistance isn't real?  Resistance will bury you.
  6. "The enemy is a very good teacher."  the Dalai Lama
  7. Any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower, any of these will elicit Resistance.
  8. Resistance is the enemy within.
  9. Resistance has no conscious.
  10. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.
  11. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
  12. Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.  Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one has but us.
  13. Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher.
  14. The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.  At this point, Resistance knows we're about to beat it.  It hits the panic button.  It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it's got.
  15. Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.  But there's a parallel peril that must also be guarded against: sabotage by others.
  16. The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.
  17. The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.
  18. Procrastination if the most common manifestation of Resistance because it's the easiest to rationalize.
  19. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives.  There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.
  20. Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free of artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance.
  21. Cruelty to others is a form of Resistance, as is the willing endurance of cruelty from others.
  22. Attention Deficit Disorder, Seasonal Affect Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder.  These aren't diseases, they're marketing ploys.  Doctors didn't discover them, copywriters did.  Marketing departments did.  Drug companies did.
  23. When we drug ourselves to blot our soul's call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers.  We're doing exactly what TV commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do from birth.  Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification and hard work, we simply consume a product.
  24. Doctors estimate that seventy to eighty percent of their business in non-health-related.
  25. Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work.
  26. What finally convinced me to go ahead was simply that I was so unhappy not going ahead.  I was developing symptoms.  As soon as I sat down and began, I was okay.
  27. What does Resistance feel like?  First, unhappiness. Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable.  At this point vices kick in.  Dope, adultery, web surfing.  Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical.  Depression, aggression, dysfunction.Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.  Sounds like life.  It isn't. It's Resistance.
  28. John Lennon once wrote: Well, you think you're so clever and classless and free.  But you're all fucking peasants, as far as I can see.
  29. It is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls.  In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of the consumer culture.  We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle.  We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom of line Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.
  30. Who am I?  Why am I here?  They're not easy because the human being isn't wired to function as an individual.  We're wired tribally, to act as part of a group.
  31. He cannot find his way into the future, so he retreats to the past.  He returns in imagination to the glory days of his race and seeks to reconstitute both them and himself in their purer, more virtuous light...This does not mean that the fundamentalist is not creative.  Rather, his creativity is inverted.  He creates destruction.  Even the structure he builds, his schools and networks of organization, are dedicated to annihilation, of his enemies and of himself.
  32. When fundamentalism wins, the world enters a dark age.
  33. As Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery.  While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
  34. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others.  If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement.
  35. Self-doubt can be an ally.  This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration.
  36. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) "Am I really a writer?  Am I really an artist?" chances are you are.
  37. Fear is good.  Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator.  Fear tells us what we have to do.
  38. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.
  39. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.
  40. The act of courage calls forth infallibly that deeper part of ourselves that supports and sustains us.
  41. What are we trying to heal, anyway?  The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free.  He has to play hurt.
  42. Have you ever been to a workshop?  These boondoggles are colleges of Resistance. 
  43. What better way of avoiding work than going to a workshop?
  44. Rationalization is Resistance's right-hand man.  Its job is to keep us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work.
  45. It's one thing to lie to ourselves.  It's another thing to believe it.
  46. "It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior's life."  Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the fifth century B.C.
  47. The amateur plays for fun.  The professional plays for keeps.  To the amateur, the game is his avocation.  To the pro it's his vocation.
  48. 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."
  49. 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.
  50. The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.  This is invaluable to an artist.
  51. Marines love to be miserable.  Marines derive a perverse satisfaction from having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys or flyboys, all of whom they despise.
  52. Nothing is as empowering as real-world validation, even if it's for failure.
  53. To the gods the supreme sin is not rape or murder, but pride.
  54. The professional understands delayed gratification.
  55. He knows that any job, whether it's a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much.  He accepts that.  He recognizes it as reality.
  56. He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind.
  57. The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work.  The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.
  58. The professional has learned better.  He 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.
  59. The professional respects his craft.  He does not consider himself superior to it.  He recognizes the contributions of those who have gone before him.  He apprentices himself to them.
  60. Bhagavad-Gita tells us we have a right only to our labor, not to the fruits of our labor.
  61. No matter what, I will never let Resistance beat me.
  62. Humiliation, like rejection or criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance.
  63. The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.
  64. She gets an agent, she gets a lawyer, she gets an accountant.  She knows she can only be a professional at one thing.  She brings in other pros and treats them with respect.
  65. 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.  We're more cold-blooded; we can price our wares more realistically.  
  66. There's no mystery in turning pro.  It's a decision brought about by an act of will.  We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros as we do it.  Simple as that.
  67. The most important thing about art is to work.  Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.
  68. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.  Begin it now."  W.H. Murray, the Scottish Himalayan Expedition
  69. When we conceive an enterprise and commit to it in the face of our fears, something wonderful happens.
  70. The process of self-revision and self correction is so common we don't even notice.  But it's a miracle.  And its implications are staggering. 
  71. The principle of organization is built into nature.  Chaos itself is self-organizing.  Out of primordial disorder, stars find their orbits; rivers make their way to the sea.
  72. Clearly some intelligence is at work, independent of our conscious mind and yet in alliance with it, processing our material for us and alongside us.
  73. Things that you think are nothing, as weightless as air, are actually powerful substantial forces, as real and as solid as earth.
  74. "The moment a person learns he's got terminal cancer, a profound shift takes place in his psyche.  At one stroke in the doctor's office he becomes aware of what really matters to him.  Things that sixty seconds earlier had seemed all-important suddenly appear meaningless, while people and concerns that he had till then dismissed at once take on supreme importance."  Tom Laughlin
  75. I think angels make their home in the Self, while Resistance has its seat in the Ego.  The fight is between the two.
  76. All beings are one.  If I hurt you, I hurt myself.
  77. Have you ever wondered why the slang terms for intoxication are so demolition-oriented?  Stoned, smashed, hammered.  It's because they're talking about the Ego.  It's the Ego that gets blasted, waxed, plastered.  We demolish the Ego to get to the Self.
  78. When we deliberately alter our conscious in any way, we are trying to find the Self.
  79. The Ego produces Resistance and attacks the awakening artist.
  80. We're not born with unlimited choices.  We can't be anything we want to be.  We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny.  We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become.
  81. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
  82. If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it's our job to realize it and get down to business.
  83. There's a problem with hierarchical orientation.  When the numbers get too big, the thing breaks down.
  84. We have entered Mass Society.  The hierarchy is too big.  It doesn't work anymore.
  85. The artist must operate territorially.  He must do his work for its own sake.
  86. In the hierarchy, the artist faces outward.  Meeting someone new he asks himself, What can this person do for me?  How can this person advance my standing?  In the hierarchy, the artist looks up and looks down.  The one place he can't look is that place he must: within.
  87. 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.
  88. It can pay off, being a hack.  Given the depraved state of American culture, a slick dude can make millions being a hack.  But even if you succeed, you lose, because you've sold out your Muse, and your Muse is you, the best part of yourself, where your finest and only true work comes from.
  89. The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators.  They don't create the new life, the only bear it.
  90. Instead let's ask ourselves like that new mother: What do I feel growing inside me?  Let me bring that forth, if I can, for its own sake and not for what it can do for me or how it can advance my standing.
  91. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
  92. We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.
  93. Out of the Void, the field of infinite potential, primal chaos, the Muse.
  94. That's why an artist must be a warrior, and, like all warriors, artists over time acquire modesty and humility.
  95. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself.  You hurt your children.  You hurt me.  You hurt the planet.