The War of Art

Finished it in less than an hour last night, and I was blown away. For a procrastination literature junkie, what really got to me was the amount of novel in this book. It’s a new perspective, and a really straightforward approach, and I’m excited to try it out. I’m just going to include snippets of the second part of the book here, to settle it down in my mind:

  • The Qualities of a Professional:
    1. We show up every day.
    2. We show up no matter what.
    3. We stay on the job all day.
    4. We are committed over the long haul.
    5. The stakes for us are high and real.
    6. We accept remuneration for our labor.
    7. We do not over-identify with our jobs.
    8. We master the technique of our jobs.
    9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
    10. We receive praise or blame in the real world.
  • The writer is an infantryman. He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood.
  • A Professional Is Patient: The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work.
  • A Professional Seeks Order: He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind.
  • A Professional Demystifies: A pro views her work as craft, not art. Not because she believes art is devoid of a mystical dimension. On the contrary. She understands that all creative endeavor is holy, but she doesn't dwell on it. She knows if she thinks about that too much, it will paralyze her. So she concentrates on technique.
  • A Professional Acts in the Face of Fear: The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.
  • A Professional Accepts No Excuses: The professional has learned better. He respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.
  • A Professional Plays It as It Lays:  The professional conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged.
  • A Professional Is Prepared: The professional is prepared at a deeper level. He is prepared, each day, to confront his own self-sabotage.
  • A Professional Does Not Show Off: His style serves the material. He does not impose it as a means of drawing attention to himself.
  • A Professional Dedicates Himself to Mastering Technique: He knows that by toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back.
  • A Professional Does Not Hesitate to Ask for Help: It would never occur to him, as it would to an amateur, that he knows everything, or can figure everything out on his own.
  • A Professional Distances Herself from Her Instrument: The professional identifies with her consciousness and her will, not with the matter that her consciousness and will manipulate to serve her art.
  • A Professional Does Not Take Failure (or Success) Personally: The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her. Her artistic self contains many works and many performances. Already the next is percolating inside her. The next will be better, and the one after that better still.
  • A Professional Endures Adversity: The professional cannot let himself take humiliation personally. Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance.
  • A Professional Self-Validates: Remember, Resistance wants us to cede sovereignty to others. It wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can't take this. No one can.
  • A Professional Recognizes Her Limitations: She knows she can only be a professional at one thing.
  • A Professional Reinvents Himself: The professional does not permit himself to become hidebound within one incarnation, however comfortable or successful. Like a transmigrating soul, he shucks his outworn body and dons a new one. He continues his journey.
  • A Professional Is Recognized by Other Professionals: The professional senses who has served his time and who hasn't.
  • You, Inc.: If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance on ourselves.
  • A Critter That Keeps Coming: The pro keeps coming on. He beats Resistance at its own game by being even more resolute and even more implacable than it is.
  • No Mystery: There's no mystery to turnign 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.

Err, that’s quite a lot. One thing that I think I still haven’t completely divined for myself is what my “craft” is. I don’t think I have any particular thing that I’m drawn to. But I know that I like making pretty things. Making things I can collect and share with others. These things that come from somewhere inside me, from a place I don’t completely understand. Things like that take many forms, and I think that in making games I’m simply exploring one of the many facets of that compulsion.

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