The war of art summary

I guarantee you have experienced a small voice coming from your head which restricts you from starting work. Especially if you are a creative person like writer, painter, filmmaker, or any professional.

The war of art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battle written by Steven Pressfield is about that “Resistance” you face every time before showing up.

Through this book, the author not only shows us different characteristics, symptoms of resistance but also shows a way to combat it & become a professional artist. The summary of the war of art is divided into three parts.

  1. Resistance- the enemy
  2. Combating Resistance- Turning pro
  3. Beyond Resistance- Higher Realm

Let’s start with the first part of the war of art summary.

Resistance- Defining the enemy

If you are a writer who never written a word, if you are an entrepreneur who never started a company or if you are an individual who never does things that he decided to do then you know what resistance is. Resistance defeated you & will defeat you every day. It will restrict your living your desired life.

Characteristics of resistance

  • Resistance is invisible

Resistance comes from within us thus it is the enemy within us. It will do everything to keep you away from doing your desired work.

  • Resistance is universal

You are not the only person who experiences resistance, it is universal. Even a professional writer experiences resistance every new day.

  • Resistance is infallible

The more important your work is to you, the more resistance you will feel doing the work. It is most powerful at the finish line. The more you closer to end your work the more resistance you will feel.

  • Resistance recruits allies

Resistance may come in the form of friends or people near you. When you start doing your work they might restrict you by getting sick or sabotaging you. They will do because they found themselves beaten by resistance. At this point, you need to be ruthless.

Symptoms of resistance

  • Procrastination

We don’t tell ourselves, “I am never going to do exercise, “ Instead we say, ”I am going to do exercise, ”I am just doing it tomorrow.” Procrastination is a manifestation of resistance. The author says,” This very moment, we can change our lives. We have the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on resistance. This second we can sit and do our work.

  • Resistance & Sex

Sometimes resistance takes the form of sex. But, why? Because it gives them instant gratification. Of course, not all sex is resistance but if you feel hollowness after sex then you are motivated because of resistance. This principle can apply to masturbation, TV, junk food, shopping, alcohol.

  • Resistance and medication

Attention deficit disorder, seasonal affect disorder, social anxiety disorder are not diseases. They are a marketing ploys. These diseases invented to sell products. These are the form of resistance. And to cure these disease people consume products. so medication is a form of resistance.

  • Resistance and victimhood

A victim hope others to come to his rescue. People who cast themselves as a victim running from their work.

  • Resistance and fear

Fear is a great indicator. The more important work is to you the more fear you feel. The degree of fear is equates to the strength of resistance.
If you are afraid of starting a new business, then you have to start it. Professionals do things that they never did before. They feel fear but they take it as a sign.

  • Resistance and love

If you are feeling a massive resistance then there is love. Opposite of love is not hate it is indifference. If you don’t love the project then you don’t care about it.

  • resistance and rationalization

Rationalization is the right hand of resistance. It gives you rational reasons to not do the work. I have experienced this many times whenever I work for long hours, a rational voice from my head says to do the remaining work tomorrow. This is the most dangerous form of resistance. The next part of this book is about beating the resistance by becoming professional.

Combating Resistance- Turning pro

Professionals and amateurs

People who defeated by the resistance have one common thread between them: They think like amateurs. Aspiring amateurs work for fun, they don’t show up every day. While professional work for keeps or money, they show up seven days a week.

Amateur treat their work as a passion or hobby. While professionals treat their work as a vocation. Professional people keep patience they believe in delayed gratification while amateur gives up in face of difficulties.

Professionals know the difference between important over urgent & they do the important stuff first.

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.” That’s a pro. In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, “I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work.”

We are all are pros already

We are all are pros already in one area: our jobs. Whether we do it for money or safety, we do our job professionally. What looks like a professional?

  • We show up every day no matter what– Whether we like or not we show up every day despite sickness or other issues & we stay on the job all day. We are doing the same job next year as well. We might change the company but we are doing work for the long haul.
  • We master the technique of our job.
  • We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
  • We receive praise or blame in the real world.

Now look at an aspiring writer, he does the exact opposite of what professional does. he doesn’t show up regularly & doesn’t commit for a long time.
He didn’t expose himself showing his work to other people for the real feedback.

Amateur doesn’t have enough patience while professional knows it takes twice time & energy to complete a task thus they put their head down & work.

Professional don’t take the failure & success personally. He knows what told in Bhagavad Gita, “We have only the right to labor not the fruits of the labor.” Professional keeps himself apart from his performance while amateur overidentifies himself with his work.

If we become professional we can win the war of art. The next part of the book is about going beyond resistance & working for higher purpose or meaning in life.

Beyond Resistance- Higher Realm

The first duty is to sacrifice to the gods and pray them to grant you the thoughts, words, and deeds likely to render your command most pleasing to the gods and to bring yourself, your friends, and your city the fullest measure of affection and glory and advantage.

Xenophon, The Cavalry Commander

Resistance is to restrict us from discovering ourselves. Similarly, there are some allies who help us. The author calls them the Muse & Angels. When we do our work every day she is watching us & we are gaining votes in her sight.

Territory VS Hierarchy

In the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways by their rank within a hierarchy (a hen in a pecking order, a wolf in a pack) or by their connection to a territory (a home base, a hunting ground, a turf).

The author suggests an artist should work in his territory. He should put his work in front of an audience without thinking critically. If he will work in his territory he will get what he puts in.

With this, we come to the end of Steven Pressfield’s The Art of War Summary. See you with a new book summary. Keep Reading. Keep defeating resistance. There is much more to explore in this book, so I recommend to buy it.

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Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave is the founder of He is an avid book reader. After reading 100+ book summaries and 80+ books, he realized book summaries can help him choose better books. He writes about interesting book summaries, reading tips, the best books to read, and everything related to books!