18 Life-Changing Quotes From Steven Pressfield’s Amazing Books: The War of Art, Do the Work & Turning Pro

Steven Pressfield is one of very few writers that have written multiple best-selling fiction books and best-selling non-fiction books.  His “The War of Art” is an amazing and inspiring book on productivity.  Let’s read some of the best quotes from his books and learn about how to be productive.


“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.” - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

When you are doing your work, think about how to do it well.  Money and fame can be useful but focusing on them while you are doing the work is not very useful.  Think of it as the work you are doing has chosen you to be the creator of the work.  You are responsible to make it good.  


“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 War of Art

If there’s something we think we should do but that we are afraid to do, do it.  It’s just that a part of us is afraid to do the hard work.  Overcome that random thought.  Find out what it takes and do what it takes.   


“It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.” - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Most people think it’s a victory when you stay out of the jungle all the time.  However, in order to live a meaningful life, we need to go to the jungle and do the work that we are supposed to do.  Do we want to spend our entire life in a “parking lot”?


“Don't cheat the world of your contribution. Give it what you've got.” - Steven Pressfield

Whatever you are doing, writing a book, teaching children, developing an app, don’t just do it at a level that is just good enough so that you wouldn’t get fired.  You are not going to become a better version of yourself doing things that way.  


“Art is a war - between ourselves and the forces of self-sabotage that would stop us from doing our work. The artist is a warrior.” - Steven Pressfield

While many scientists are trying to figure out things that possibly prevent us from reaching our goals, such as lack of willpower, lack of good habits or lack of good systems, one of the ways to tackle it is to just give whatever that slows us down a name.  Steven Pressfiled calls it Resistance.   


“Start before you’re ready. Don’t prepare. Begin.” - Steven Pressfield

There is no perfect moment to start a project no matter how long you wait.  Just start it now.  


“When we experience panic, it means that we’re about to cross a threshold.” - Steven Pressfield

Stress doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.  If you just view it neutrally, you can simply treat it as a sign that tells you are about to finish doing something difficult and important.  


“When an idea pops into our head and we think, ‘No, this is too crazy,’ that’s the idea we want.” - Steven Pressfield

If there is an idea that we think is too crazy, it’s a good thing because at least this is not a mediocre idea.  If you can execute the crazy idea, it’s often rewarding.  


“Figure out where you want to go; then work backwards from there.” - Steven Pressfield

If you want to have a book written by the end of the year, figure out how many words you have to write and write it.  There’s no question that it takes hard work but the method is very simple.  


“Research can become resistance. We want to work, not prepare for work.” - Steven Pressfield

There are people who can do research for one year before they start writing a book.  There’s a good chance that you are not that person.  Do only a reasonable amount of research.  You can always do more while you are writing.  That applies to a lot of different types of work.  


“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.  Do it or don’t do it.” - Steven Pressfield

This is one of the most powerful quotes by Steven Pressfield.  Who cares whether you are born to be a good writer.  There are only two choices: do it or not do it.  


“Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” - Steven Pressfield

If you look at all the successful athletes, artists and creators, all they are doing is to spend time doing their work, day after day.  Someone mediocre may stop on day 100.  Someone good may stop on day 300.  A professional doesn’t stop until the goal is reached.  


“The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.” - Steven Pressfield

If you want to achieve success, expect pain.  It’s the price to pay and there’s no way around it.  


“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” - Steven Pressfield

If you don’t know what your ultimate life goal is, it’s a good idea to aim for “becoming the best version of yourself”.  Along the journey of being your best version, a lot of people will be influenced by you positively, whether you know it or not.  


“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.” - Steven Pressfield

Becoming the best version of yourself allows you to live meaningfully.  Although pain is guaranteed, the deep joy that comes with it is worth it.  


“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

It’s very ironic that we teach children to dream but a big part of us is afraid to dream.  Teach your children by leading by example.  


“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” - Steven Pressfield

Be aware of the thing that stops us from becoming the best version of ourselves.  Beat it by doing work.  

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