The War Of Art - An Excerpt

I am currently reading the book "Elon Musk" by Ashlee Vance. I am so engrossed and inspired by the book - more about this book in later posts. It reminded me of a favorite excerpt from another book "The War Of Art" by Steven Pressfield. So I thought of sharing the excerpt with you. Hope it inspires you :)

Excerpt from book
Excerpt from book

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the
book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets
us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and
unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can’t
sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will
The professional, on the other hand, understands delayed
gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise,
not the hare.
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. 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.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived
life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.



When I first moved to Los Angeles and made the
acquaintance of working screenwriters, I learned that many
had their own corporations. They provided their writing
services not as themselves but as “loan-outs” from their one man
businesses. Their writing contracts were f/s/o —“for
services of ”— themselves. I had never seen this before. I
thought it was pretty cool.
For a writer to incorporate himself has certain tax and
financial advantages. But what I love about it is the metaphor.
I like the idea of being Myself, Inc. That way I can wear two
hats. I can hire myself and fire myself. I can even, as Robin
Williams once remarked of writer-producers, blow smoke up
my own ass.
Making yourself a corporation (or just thinking of yourself in
that way) reinforces the idea of professionalism because it
separates the artist-doing-the-work from the 

will-and consciousness-running-the-show.
No matter how much abuse
is heaped on the head of the former, the latter takes it in stride
and keeps on trucking. Conversely with success: You-the writer
may get a swelled head, but you-the-boss remember
how to take yourself down a peg.
Have you ever worked in an office? Then you know about
Monday morning status meetings. The group assembles in the
conference room and the boss goes over what assignments
each team member is responsible for in the coming week.
When the meeting breaks up, an assistant prepares a work
sheet and distributes it. When this hits your desk an hour later,
you know exactly what you have to do that week.
I have one of those meetings with myself every Monday. I sit
down and go over my assignments. Then I type it up and
distribute it to myself.
I have corporate stationery and corporate business cards and a
corporate checkbook. I write off corporate expenses and pay
corporate taxes. I have different credit cards for myself and
my corporation.
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. Sometimes, as Joe Blow himself,
I’m too mild-mannered to go out and sell. But as Joe Blow,
Inc., I can pimp the hell out of myself. I’m not me anymore.
I’m Me, Inc.
I’m a pro.


The first excerpt about resistance would ring a bell with all procrastinators like me. The book makes a point that everyone feels procrastination at some level. The key is to just sit down and start working on it. Resistance is anything that stops you from working - be it laziness, worrying about the result of your work, thinking that you are spending way too much on work and not with family/friends/fun etc.  It's like the summary from Geetha, we just need to work and stop worrying about the rest of the things.

The second excerpt is a pro tip to be more or less the professional talked about in the first excerpt. When you, an individual, act like a corporation - you get to wear different hats and push yourself when needed, to think as per the big picture, be aggressive with your goals and just do the necessary.

If you like this post, I will add a new category to the blog - Excerpts from books - where I will post more excerpts like this.


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