‘The War of Art’ – Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield is one of the best books to re-motivate you into creative great work and getting through creative blocks and slumps.
I love this book. It’s short. It’s simple. It’s split up into 1-3 page chapters/sections so you can easily open it up, grab some inspiration, and get back to work.
When I first read it, I left it on my desk for about a month, sitting there as a visual reminder to get back to work.
Now I’m here to share the insights I gained with you, so here are my top tips for designers, illustrators, letterers and artists. Lessons learned from reading ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.
1) The things we least want to do are the most important.
‘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.’ I loved this phrase. It immediately resonated with me as a perpetual procrastinator, I know, the most import things to do tend to be the things I least want to do, or find the most reasons to delay. The War of Art teaches us to use this resistance as a compass. Use it to guide us to our true calling. Follow the Resistance!
2) Right Here. Right Now.
‘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.’ Doesn’t that just give you tingles? Make you itch and beam with excitement? The realisation that we, right now, at EVERY moment, have the power to change our lives. If we feel we work too hard, we can stop, if we want to pursue a new dream we can take the first step in making that a reality. Even if the step is only setting an alarm on our phone to remind us when we are free this evening, we have taken that step to make a change. I love that. The War of Art teaches us to grab our own destiny with action.
3) Ditch The Phone.
‘…we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.’ We’ve all felt that empty, hollow, unsatisfied feeling after loosing an afternoon scrolling facebook, bing watching a terrible Netflix show, or buying our 6th pair of blue Denim jeans. The War of Art reminds us that the best way to feel satisfaction, is to create our art. Our reason for being. This reminds me a bit of the lessons from Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’. So ditch your phone, turn off the internet, and make your beautiful art!
SIDENOTE – What the Tim Ferriss Podcast with Kevin Systrom can teach us about the War of Art
I’ve just been listening to a recent podcast episode of the Tim Ferriss Show with Instagram Co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom when they suddenly started talking about ‘Follow Your Passion’. Then Kevin said something amazing. He said that it’s more ‘Love what you’re shooting for’. It’s about following your passion, yes, but there will be tough days, work is hard, reaching your goals WILL be hard. But it’s about loving where you are going. Loving what you’re shooting for.
When I heard that, I had to add it into this article as it is a perfect summary of how to win the war of art. How to continue pursuing your goal when things get tough. I highly recommend listening to the full episode with Tim and Kevin, and I’ve embedded the video below for you.
4) Imposter Syndrome should be Reinforcing.
‘The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.’
Feeling like a fraud, or an imposter is so normal when working in the creative or entrepreneurial fields. It happens to all of us. What I love about this statement from Steven Pressfield is that it not only gives us permission to feel like an imposter, but he tells us that this feeling is what makes us legitimate. It is only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can pursue our real dreams. Be vulnerable and pursue your true passion. If you’re feeling unsure, you’re going the right direction.
5) Be A Professional.
‘The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps…The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time’
It’s about dedication. If we truly want to achieve something, to get something done, to create something amazing, it can’t be a half hearted attempt. It can’t be part time. The professional dedicates all their time to the goal. All their time and all their energy. That is where success lies.
6) Be in Business, be You, Inc.
‘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’
This point ties in perfectly with the previous point. If you don’t take yourself seriously and treat yourself as a professional, nobody else will. For your sake, for you customers sake and to help your financials , you need to think of yourself and treat yourself like a business. I use Rounded accounts software, Toggl time tracking software and Adobe Creative Cloud. I spend money on being and looking professional because that’s what it takes to create professional work for top clients. Set yourself up as a business and you will set yourself up to stay in business.
7) Start Now.
“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.
TStop staring at the blank page, the un-opened document, the unstated race. Put one foot infront of the other, write one word on the page, and make a start. Once you get the ball rolling it will pick up momentum and speed. We can’t finish without starting. The best time to start is now.