Three Things I Learned from The War of Art

Every January for the past three years, I’ve blazed through The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I guess you’d call it a new tradition, as I have no intention to stop.

If anything, re-reading this gem snaps me back to center. It reminds me of the simplicity of bringing myself to my work.

Here are three things I learned:

Serendipity comes to those who work

Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” That’s a pro.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

One isn’t always struck by a divine inspiration to work, but one who works may be struck by a divine inspiration to produce THE WORK. Showing up, showing up consistently over time, is the path to produce.

We are in full control

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.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Committing to the work is easy. We do it, or we don’t do it.

The work is the work

When Krishna instructed Arjuna that we have a right to our labor but not to the fruits of our labor, he was counseling the warrior to act territorially, not hierarchically. We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

There’s a segment in the War of Art about the Marines. The marine corps teaches you how to be miserable. We “turn pro,” or do our work, for no other reason than that is what we’re called to create.

I can’t wait to revisit this again next January. 😉


Tom Tate

I'm a suburban polymath living just outside Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and three kids. Digital marketing nerd for a SaaS company by day. Rabid movie, music, game, and book consumer by morning, noon, and night. I share life hacks and learnings via email at Weekly Coffee. I also host Power Time Podcast, a Nintendo retrospective. Sometimes I write stuff. Most of the time, it's on the internet.