Books Productivity Thoughts

The War of Art reflection

In the recent months, I realised that I’ve been feeling more stress than I’ve typically felt. Perhaps it’s the increase responsibilities at work, perhaps it’s the plateau in my weight loss regiment, perhaps it’s me not taking good enough care of my body.

Perhaps it could be a thousand other things, but the question was, “What am I doing about it?”. It dawned on me that I know the solution to each one of the stress-givers, but I have not worked on them consciously and meticulously. Following the theme for 2021, it became clear to me that my goal is to make progress on my health.

Reading books has been on my todo list for the longest time but I’ve rarely found the time/effort to execute my will. Cue the sign from universe. I happened to watch a productivity video that promoted this book titled: The War of Art. The video summarised the book in a way that clicked in my head, so I decided to procure it on my nearly-defunct kindle; I could only turn the Kindle on after charging it for 30mins.

Of all the topics that was covered in the book, there are two concepts that stood out and caused a seismic shift in my perspective on procrastination.

Disclaimer: this is my personal reflection of the book based off my memory so this is my own understanding of what the book is about.


The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.

i.e. our current life style/choices vs the life that we want to achieve but didn’t.

What is resistance? It’s the evil force that stops you from living the life unlived. We experience it all the time, we are just not consciously aware of it.

If you’ve ever bought a gym package and barely used it, when you want to save the environment, when you want to be a dancer, when you want to help the weak; but you didn’t. That’s resistance.

Resistance is cunning; it will never reveal its ugly self to you, but trick you in other ways. It’s not “I will not exercise”, but “I will exercise tomorrow when I’m less tired”. It’s not “I will not write this blog post”, but “I will write the blog post when I’m feeling inspired”. By rationalizing your actions, resistance nudges you away from the thing that you need to be doing.

Resistance can be your compass; as long as you recognize resistance, you can rely on it to guide to towards the thing you should be doing. The more resistance you feel towards it, the more likely that it is the most important thing you should be working on.

Resistance feeds on fear; the stronger the fear, the stronger the resistance, to the point where it stops you from trying in the first place. If you fear the unknown, you avoid trying because the effort required is indeterminate; if you’re a perfectionist, you put off creating new works because it has to be better than the previous one; “Perfect is the enemy of good“.

The only way to defeat resistance, is by doing the work. In order to maintain consistency in doing the work, we should adopt the characteristic of The Professional

The Professional vs
The Amateur

The amateur does it for fun, when there is inspiration, when it “feels right“. The amateur does it as a hobby where you only work on it when you have the “spare time” and do not put in the work consistently. i.e. you’re drawing but you’re not an artist, you’re playing music but you’re not a musician.
*note that this is related to mentality and not your skill level

The Professional do not give in to their resistance, it’s the mindset you have for your job. No matter how much you complain or hate the mountain of paperwork needs clearing, you still show up for work the next day, you still take responsibility of the work that you’re putting out. Why do we grit our teeth and push through the day? Because we are professionals at our jobs. Rain or shine, we do the work consistently everyday because we are Professionals.

The goal is not to turn every hobby into a profession because that will burn you out way too quickly. Be a professional for the things that you truly care about and want to be better at. If I want to be good at drawing, I can’t just do it as and when I feel like it, I need a process where I am consistently putting in the work.

Other thoughts

To be honest, I feel that this book goes off at a tangent at some point where it talked about angels, demons and muses. If you were to read it, try not to take it at face value and be turned off by it. Instead, treat the biblical references as a real physical emotion/force that drives your behaviour in a certain way and it will seem a lot more palatable.

TLDR; be a professional and
fight the resistance.

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