93 Powerful Quotes From “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

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“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

Steven Pressfield author of The War of Art

Every artist and professional athlete is in a battle against Resistance whether we know it or not. If you want to be a pro, it is imperative that you know the nature of Resistance (aka Procrastination) so you can counter against it.

Thinking about having a breakthrough in your creative career? The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is an essential read!

This book is a quick read – only about 165 pages long – so you don’t have to worry about ‘getting lost in the pages.’ Every chapter goes straight to the point without beating around the bushes.

Though it is a quick read, The War of Art will make you think more about your creative career than you have in your decade long in school.

It brings some much needed tough love to those who seek to do actual work rather than merely thinking about doing the work.

A go-to book if you want to get things done. It is worth reading more than once.

The biggest obstacle to achieving a breakthrough in our professional career is self-sabotage. Self-sabotaging comes in the form of perpetual procrastination, self-doubt, fear, victimhood, criticism, drugs, sex, etc. or what Steven Pressfield described as Resistance throughout his book.

Resistance is not something that happened to certain people; it happens to EVERYONE!

I have read the War of Art the third time now and have jotted down some of the most staggering and powerful quotes in the book so you can learn some crucial life lessons concisely in the least amount of time.

But if you are serious about getting things done, I highly recommend that you invest in The War of Art so you can refer to the wisdom of Steven Pressfield whenever you are facing with your inner demon – which you will as long as you are living and wanting to do work that impacts the world.

Enjoy the quotes!

The War of Art book by Steven Pressfield
Credit: Heather Plett

The War of Art Quotes (Summary)

Hitler wanted to be an artist. He applied to the academy of Fine Arts and later to school of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it an overstatement but I’ll say it anyway… It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

Steven Pressfield author of The War of Art
All that matter is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got.
All that matter is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got.
All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome resistance.
All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome resistance.
It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write.
It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.
Resistance is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction.
Resistance is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction.
If you believe in God you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius.
If you believe in God you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius.
Resistance is faster than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine.
Resistance is faster than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine.

8 Quotes About What Resistance Is in The War of Art

#thewarofart "The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it." ~ Steven Pressfield Click To Tweet
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt.
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt.
Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.
Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.
Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.
Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.
Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn't know who you are and doesn't care. Resistance is the force of nature.
Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care. Resistance is the force of nature.
The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
We're wrong if we think we're the only ones struggling with Resistance. Everyone who has a body experience Resistance.
We’re wrong if we think we’re the only ones struggling with Resistance. Everyone who has a body experience Resistance.
The danger is greater when the finish line is in sight.
The danger is greater when the finish line is in sight.
The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.
The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.

20 Quotes About the SYMPTOMS of Resistance in The War of Art

#theartofwar "The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." ~ Steven Pressfield Click To Tweet
Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it's the easiest to rationalize.
Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.
Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance.
Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance.
Cruelty is a form of resistance, as is the willing endurance of cruelty from others.
Cruelty is a form of resistance, as is the willing endurance of cruelty from others.
Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work. If you're doing it. Stop.
Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work. If you’re doing it. Stop.
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you're probably doing it out of Resistance.
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of Resistance.
If you find yourself asking yourself, "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" Chances are, you are.
If you find yourself asking yourself, “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” Chances are, you are.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. - Steven Pressfield
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no resistance.
If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.
If you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.
If you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.
If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too.
If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt.
The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt.
For two hours I made myself sit there, torturing out some trash that I chucked immediately into the shitcan.
For two hours I made myself sit there, torturing out some trash that I chucked immediately into the shitcan.
What counted was that I had, after years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.
What counted was that I had, after years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.
Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like monopoly money; it's not legal tender in that  sphere where we have to do out work.
Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do out work.
#thewarofart "Rationalization is Resistance's right-hand man. Its job is to keep us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work." ~ Steven Pressfield Click To Tweet
It's one thing to lie to ourselves. It's another thing to believe it.
It’s one thing to lie to ourselves. It’s another thing to believe it.
Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form.
Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form.
Instead of showing us our fear, Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn't do our work.
Instead of showing us our fear, Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn’t do our work.
If Resistance couldn't be beaten, there would be no Fifth Symphony, no Romeo and Juliet, no Golden Gate Bridge.
If Resistance couldn’t be beaten, there would be no Fifth Symphony, no Romeo and Juliet, no Golden Gate Bridge.

45 Quotes About Combating Resistance in The War of Art

To the amateur, the game is his advocation. To the pro it's his vocation.
To the amateur, the game is his advocation. To the pro it’s his vocation.
I wrote only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.
I wrote only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.
You must know the difference between what's urgent and what's important and you must do what's important first.
You must know the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important and you must do what’s important first.
The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist.
The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist.
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not.
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not.

“So you are taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.”

Tony Keppelman to Author
Resistance says, 'Show me a writer who's too good to take Job X or Y and I'll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut.'
Resistance says, ‘Show me a writer who’s too good to take Job X or Y and I’ll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut.’
Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion.
Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion.
The professional is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.
The professional is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.
The professional steels himself at the start of a project, reminding himself it is the Iditarod, not the sixty-yard dash.
The professional steels himself at the start of a project, reminding himself it is the Iditarod, not the sixty-yard dash.
The professional will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world to banish it from his mind.
The professional will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world to banish it from his mind.
The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work.
The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.
The professional knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dreadful artist.
The professional knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dreadful artist.
The professional knows if he caves in today... he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.
The professional knows if he caves in today… he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.
The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you're finished.
The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished.
The professional is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage.
The professional is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage.
The professional understands that Resistance is fertile and ingenious. It will throw stuff at him that he's never seen before.
The professional understands that Resistance is fertile and ingenious. It will throw stuff at him that he’s never seen before.
The professional is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can.
The professional is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can.
His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his inside, as sturdily and steadily as he can.
His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his inside, as sturdily and steadily as he can.
A professional does not show off. He does not impose it as a means of drawing attention to himself.
A professional does not show off. He does not impose it as a means of drawing attention to himself.
A professional's work has style; it is distinctively his own. But he doesn't let his signature grandstand for him.
A professional’s work has style; it is distinctively his own. But he doesn’t let his signature grandstand for him.
The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it.
The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it.

“The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.”

Steven Pressfield
The professional is sly. He knows that toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back.
The professional is sly. He knows that toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back.
The student of the game knows that the levels of revelation that can unfold in gold, as in any art, are inexhaustible.
The student of the game knows that the levels of revelation that can unfold in gold, as in any art, are inexhaustible.
Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world. Yet he has a teacher...
Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world. Yet he has a teacher…
The professional cannot take rejection personally because to do so reinforces Resistance.
The professional cannot take rejection personally because to do so reinforces Resistance.
Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy.
Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy.
The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even if it's true, fortify our internal foe.
The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even if it’s true, fortify our internal foe.
A professional schools herself to stand apart from her performance, even as she gives herself to it heart and soul.
A professional schools herself to stand apart from her performance, even as she gives herself to it heart and soul.
All the warrior can give is his life; all the athlete can do is leave everything on the field.
All the warrior can give is his life; all the athlete can do is leave everything on the field.
The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.
The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.
A professional accesses her stuff coldly and objectively. Where it fell short, she'll improve it.
A professional accesses her stuff coldly and objectively. Where it fell short, she’ll improve it.
The professional gives an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow.
The professional gives an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow.
Her resolution, before all others, remains: No matter what, I will never let resistance beat me.
Her resolution, before all others, remains: No matter what, I will never let resistance beat me.
The professional cannot let himself take humiliation personally. Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal resistance.
The professional cannot let himself take humiliation personally. Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal resistance.
The professional endures adversity. He lets the birdshit splash down on his slider, remembering that it comes clean with a heavy-duty hosing.
The professional endures adversity. He lets the birdshit splash down on his slider, remembering that it comes clean with a heavy-duty hosing.
The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not on the hole.
The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not on the hole.
The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.
The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.
Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will be there facing the blank page.
Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will be there facing the blank page.
The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: The supreme compliment.
The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: The supreme compliment.
Resistance is a bully and has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it.
Resistance is a bully and has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it.
A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.
A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.
The ancient spartans schooled themselves to regard the enemy, any enemy, as nameless and faceless.
The ancient Spartans schooled themselves to regard the enemy, any enemy, as nameless and faceless.
The pro beats Resistance at its own game by being even more resolute and even more implacable than it is.
The pro beats Resistance at its own game by being even more resolute and even more implacable than it is.
There's no mystery to turning pro. It's a decision brought about by an act of will.
There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will.
We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.
We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.

Also read:

20 Beyond Resistance Quotes in The War of Art

#thewarofart "Nobody knew I was done. Nobody cared. But I know. I felt like a dragon I'd been fighting all my life had just dropped dead at my feet and gasped out its last sulfuric breath." ~ Steven Pressfield Click To Tweet
The most important about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.
The most important about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.
When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us.
When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us.
When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
When we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the angels to come in and do their job.
When we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the angels to come in and do their job.
The power to take charge was in my hands; all I had to do was believe it.
The power to take charge was in my hands; all I had to do was believe it.

“You’re supposed to learn that things that you think are nothing, as weightless as air, are actually powerful substantial forces, as real and as solid as earth.”

Steven Pressfield
The Ego hates the Self because when we seat our consciousness in the Self, we put the Ego out of business.
The Ego hates the Self because when we seat our consciousness in the Self, we put the Ego out of business.
The Ego hates the prophet and the visionary because they propel the race upward.
The Ego hates the prophet and the visionary because they propel the race upward.
The Ego hated Socrates and Jesus, Luther and Galileo, Lincoln and JFK and Martin Luther King.
The Ego hated Socrates and Jesus, Luther and Galileo, Lincoln and JFK and Martin Luther King.
Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look.
Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look.
If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it's our job to realize it and get down to business.
If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business.
The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.
The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.

“Given the depraved state of American culture, a slick dude can make millions being a hack. But even if you succeed, you lose, because you’ve sold out your muse, and your muse is you, the best part of yourself, where your finest and only true work comes from.”

Steven Pressfield
A territory never devalues, you get back, dollar for dollar. What's your territory?
A territory never devalues, you get back, dollar for dollar. What’s your territory?
Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?
We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.
We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.
That is to do the work and give it to Him. Do it as an offering to God.
That is to do the work and give it to Him. Do it as an offering to God.
The work comes from heaven anyway. Why not give it back?
The work comes from heaven anyway. Why not give it back?
That's why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artist over time acquires modesty and humility.
That’s why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artist over time acquires modesty and humility.
In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don't do it.
In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don’t do it.
Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.
Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Conclusion

Resistance happens to everyone; it is not out to get you personally.

Are you an entrepreneur who doesn’t start a venture, a writer who doesn’t write or a painter who doesn’t paint? Then you are no stranger to Resistance.

The hardest part of being a writer is not writing per se but sitting down to write.

That’s why The Art of War is a must-read if you want to be a professional. Check out all the books below by Steven Pressfield:

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Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Jeremiah Say

Learn More About The War of Art

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