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The 7 Quotes That Shook Me From “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

Daily Publish Project #4

Every once in a while a passage from a book shakes you to your soul.

Something in the words reverberate a truth within you that you hadn’t realized before. When that happens that book becomes immortalized to you.

Steven Pressfield’s great work “The War of Art” did this for me several different times. He’s just so damn quotable.

Here are my seven favorite quotes, and why they hit me in the feels.

1. “Love is a verb.”

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Four words. All it took was four simple words to rock me. I read this book not long after I ended the worst relationship of my life. We’ve all had that one relationship that was such a failure that you can’t help but reference it throughout life.

So here I am, laying on the floor of my living room, reading this book, hoping to find some measure of inspiration to start writing again, and then BAM. Relationship advice out of nowhere. Thank you Mr. Pressfield.

Before reading this quote, love was just a deep emotion to me. It was a thing you fell in and out of. Just something one feels.

Then I read this line and had the epiphany. Love IS a verb. It is something you have to actively do every day! It is a choice. Holy shit, that is empowering.

Not long after reading this quote did I discover the book “The 5 Love Languages.”

My next relationship became my last relationship. Thanks again Mr. Pressfield.


2. “The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference”

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Another smack to the face, and once again, not exactly to do with writing. Love and hate are both emotions fueled by passion, by emotion. Indifference is completely devoid of emotion. A soulless husk. Emptiness.

Never do a think you are indifferent about.

Sometimes I love writing and sometimes I hate it, but I have never, ever felt indifferent about writing.

This was a glorious sign that I had found something I could be happy doing for the rest of my life.


3. “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

When I lived in Japan I made a terrible error with money. That error was spending all of it halfway through my six month stay.

I tried “blogging” for money by writing everyday about my time there.

The end result, was that Google AdWords banned me for life because of that money grabbing blog. That was when I learned that writing, or doing anything just for money or fortune was going to end in embarrassment at best. It also felt wrong. Not my proudest moment.

The intent behind a thing gives it great power. People recognize authenticity, and can extract more value from authenticity than something less.


4. “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

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Why is it so often that the thing we most dread doing, is the exact thing we should be doing.

This quote is a stark reminder that growth lies in constantly confronting ones fear, constantly stepping outside our comfort zones, and constantly doing what is hard. Because what is hard is often what is right.

It’s as simple as that.


5.“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

“Drone view of resist protest on the sand of Ocean Beach.” by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

In “The War of Art,” resistance is the primary antagonist.

It is the metaphysical enemy of our conscious minds, always pushing us to give up, give in and do what is easy.

This quote serves as a perfect mantra. 
Resistance is always lying. Resistance is full of shit.

Say that five times fast, then do what is hard.

Observe:

  • I’m too tired to go to the gym today. I’ll go tomorrow — Bullshit
  • Today sucked, I deserve this milkshake — Bullshit
  • I don’t have time to meditate — Bullshit
  • This writing sucks. I shouldn’t publish today — Bullshit

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.


6. “It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”

Photo by Jacco Rienks on Unsplash

In life we can be involved, or be a bystander. 
We can skydive, or watch the YouTube video of your friend skydiving. 
To want to write a book, but instead just take course after course on self-publishing, never bothering to finish your draft.

This is Steven’s way of saying “You miss every shot you don’t take.” 
If there is something you want to do, go do it. Don’t sit in the stands, or worse hang out in the parking lot.

Get in the damn ring and live. Even if you get stomped by the bull.


7. “The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.”

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When I started my writing journey many years ago, it felt like a solo journey. One devoid of companionship. The writer’s life was the loner’s life.

That ignorant concept died long ago, and this quote reminded me why. One person can grow on their own over a long expanse of time. A community can grow and evolve overnight.

As humans we are designed to work as a team. As writer’s it is our duty to inspire by doing the work, by setting an example that we’re all struggling in one way or another.

You have to just put one word after another.


The Daily Publish Project is an attempt to get more comfortable with publishing my writing. These posts will be largely unpolished ideas. The idea is that over time this writing will dramatically improve the more I publish.

You can find the previous posts in this series below. 
Have I started writing better?

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