By Steven Pressfield, Warner Books, 4/1/2003, 978-0446691437
Pressfield tells us how to break through Resistance to win the battle of creativity. It’s a nice short book. Many of the ideas ring true for me, and my battle against perfectionism.
[p1] Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
[p50] Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against true healing. We all need it. But it has nothing to do with doing Our work and it can be a colossa] exercise in Resistance. Resistance loves “healing.” Resistance knows that the more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired, boring injustices of our personal lives, the less juice we have to do our work.
[p55] Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.
[p71] The amateur has not mastered the technique of his art. Nor does he expose himself to judgment in the real world. If we show our poem to our friend and our friend says, “It’s wonderful, I love it,” that’s not real-world feedback, that’s our friend being nice to us. Nothing is as empowering as real-world validation, even if it’s for failure.
[p74] Resistance loves pride and preciousness. Resistance says, “show me a writer who’s toO good to take Job X or Assignment Y and I’ll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut.” Technically, the professional takes money. Technically, the pro plays for pay. But in the end, he does it for love.
[p87] When people say an artist has a thick skin, what they mean is not that the person is dense or numb, but that he has seated his professional consciousness in a place other than his personal ego. It takes tremendous strength of character to do this, because our deepest instincts run counter to it. Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.
[p108] 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.