The War of Art Summary

Do you have a feeling that there is something you were meant to do but are not doing it? Maybe you should have been a writer, a poet, or an artist. So what is holding you back? That is precisely what Steven Pressfield discusses in The War of Art. 

Steven always knew that he wanted to become a writer, but before he got there, he had to be a teacher, mental hospital attendant, truck driver, bartender, and advertising copywriter. In this masterpiece, he explains how you can avoid or overcome the resistance to your creativity and take the leap. This War of Art Summary discusses the book and some of the biggest lessons that you can learn from it. 


“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” Many people have dreams of what they could achieve if they only started out now. 

Maybe you want to change your diet to become healthy, but something tells you to take that one last bag of chips. The life that you could be living if you overcome that resistance is a fantastic life. It will be a full life that will make you happy. 

“Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.”

RESISTANCE (defining the enemy)

Resistance is that repelling force that you get whenever you want to engage in something meaningful. Many activities elicit resistance such as; becoming a painter, artist, poet, creative works, changing health and diet, starting a business, and religious issues amongst others. 

Unlike what many people think, resistance is not external. Instead, it emanates from within. It is an internal enemy and therefore only you can combat it on your own. 

Some issues face more resistance than others. Coincidentally, the very important callings are the ones that face the biggest resistance. You, therefore, have to have the passion and the love for what you have to do to push through. This is The War of Art, and therefore you can be sure it will not be easy. 

Resistance will seduce you, falsify and lie to you in ways you cannot be able to explain or understand. You must be ready to destroy it and get rid of it entirely if you are to take that critical step to start.

Procrastination is the most common manifestation of fear. This is because it is very easy to rationalize procrastination. You do not tell yourself that you will not write or exercise, rather you say that you will start tomorrow or the other day or when the conditions are right. But, that time never comes. 

The most significant cause of resistance is fear, and when you are able to conquer fear, you will absolutely overcome resistance.


To fight resistance then you have to become a professional in what you do. You need to stop thinking like an amateur and get a mind of a pro. To become a pro means that you love what you are doing so much that it becomes a part of you. When that happens then no kind of resistance can get to you because what you need to do is already ingrained in you. 

As Steven puts it to be a pro you have to learn how to be miserable. “The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.” A pro doesn’t care whether they feel like it or not. They do what they have to do and love doing it. 

The qualities of a great professional that you should have included; be able to demystify, have order, have patience, act in the face of fear, accept no excuses, be prepared, do not show off, don’t be afraid to ask for help, dedicate yourself to mastering the technique, don’t take things personally and endure adversity. As a pro, you must also be known by other pros (network) and know your limits. 

BEYOND RESISTANCE (A higher realm)

“As Resistance works to keep us from becoming who we were born to be, equal and opposite powers are counterpoised against it. These are our allies and angels.” To be able to make it through resistance and be consistent, you have to recognize that there is a higher realm to look up to. 

When you sit down every day to do your work as a professional, the higher power notes and is impressed by your hard work. You can, therefore, be sure that the gains will come. 

When you submit to a power higher than yourself, then something wonderful happens. You get the power and the motivation to go on every day. You live for something and whatever you are doing is dedicated to something more than yourself. You can face your faces and live beyond resistance.

What I Like About the Book

This book is very highly detailed in understanding resistance. It describes clearly what resistance is, some characteristics of resistance and goes further to indicate how you can combat resistance. It is written in a simple way that is easy to understand, and the points are bite-sized which makes it a breeze to read. 

Why You Should Read the Book

You should read this book if you are looking to beat procrastination, fear, and resistance that might be holding you back to achieving your dreams. The book is highly practical and actionable with strategies that you can adopt in your daily life to conquer resistance.

​Next summary: You Can Heal Your Life

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