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Think of The War of Art as tough love... for yourself.
Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat "Resistance"; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us.Resistance kicks everyone's butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.
"As I closed The War of Art, I felt a surge of positive calm. I now know I can win this war. And if I can win, so can you." - From the foreword by Robert McKee, screenwriting guru"
[The War of Art] aims to help readers channel creative energy, unlock potential and overcome the fears that stop us from reaching our fullest potential. With courage, following the right formula and working hard, the book proposes that passion can be turned into purpose." - Ellen Degeneres book pick
"Resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. . . . [Steve Pressfield is] the godfather of the resistance, the five-star general in the war against fear." - Seth Godin
"A vital gem . . . a kick in the ass." - Esquire
"I've never read a self help book that wasn't fatuous, obvious and unhelpful. Until The War of Art. It's amazingly cogent and smart on the psychology of creation. If I ever teach a writing course this would be one of the first books I'd assign, along with the letters of Flannery O'Connor." - Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City and Brightness Falls
"Yes, The War of Art is hell. But Steven Pressfield is our Clausewitz who shows how you too can battle against The Four Horsemen of The Apologetic: sloth, inertia, rationalization and procrastination. Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Beethoven all are proof of what you can do with talent and General Pressfield." - Frank Deford, author and NPR commentator
"A marvelous help for anybody who has ever encountered the resistance of a blank page, an empty canvas or an unyielding musical scale." - Stan Berenstein, co-creator of The Berenstein Bears
Steven Pressfield is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance (made into the movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith), Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, and The Profession. His nonfiction includes The War of Art, The Warrior Ethos, and the upcoming Turning Pro. His books are included in the curriculum at West Point and the Naval Academy, and are on the Commandant's Reading List for the Marine Corps.
In 2012, Pressfield will launch his independent publishing company, BLACK IRISH BOOKS with his longtime editor, agent, publisher, and friend, Shawn Coyne.
Novelist Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance; Gates of Fire) goes self-help in The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. Dubbing itself a cross between Sun-Tzu's The Art of War and Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way, Pressfield's book aims to help readers "overcome Resistance" so that they may achieve "the unlived life within." Whether one wishes to embark on a diet, a program of spiritual advancement or an entrepreneurial venture, it's most often resistance that blocks the way. To kick resistance, Pressfield stresses loving what one does, having patience and acting in the face of fear.
From Library Journal
Drawing on his many years' experience as a writer, Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance) presents his first nonfiction work, which aims to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel his or her creative energies. The focus is on combating resistance and living the destiny that Pressfield believes is gifted to each person by an all-powerful deity. While certainly of great value to frustrated writers struggling with writer's block, Pressfield's highly personal philosophy, soundly rooted in his own significant life challenges, has merit for anyone frustrated in fulfilling his or her life purpose. Successful photographer Ulrich (photography chair, Art Inst. of Boston; coeditor, The Visualization Manual) explores the creative impulse and presents an approach to developing creativity that, like Pressfield's, will be relevant to artists and others. He identifies and explains seven distinct stages of the creative process: discovery and encounter, passion and commitment, crisis and creative frustration, retreat and withdrawal, epiphany and insight, discipline and completion, and responsibility and release. He also develops his view of the three principles of the creative impulse, which include creative courage, being in the right place at the right time, and deepening connections with others. Rooted in Eastern philosophy, Ulrich's fully developed treatise nicely updates the solid works of Brewster Ghiselin (The Creative Process), Rollo May (The Courage To Create), and Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way). It also supplements Pressfield's inspirational thoughts on overcoming resistance through introspective questions and practical exercises that further elaborate the creative process. Both books are recommended for public libraries needing additional works on creativity. Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Know the enemy, know yourself, wrote Sun Tzu in his classic The Art of War, and your victory will be certain. For anyone who is stuck at a level below their God-given potential, who can't seem to get on track to do the things they need to do in order to achieve their most authentic goals, knowing the enemy and knowing yourself are one and the same.
Steve Pressfield's magnificent little book The War of Art is about being more creative - but more important, it's also about fulfilling your potential as a human being. To do this, he says, you must overcome Resistance (the "R" is capitalized be Pressfield to represent the fact that it is a very real entity - as real to your authentic Self as Charles Manson or Genghis Khan were to their victims).
The whole aim of Resistance, says Pressfield (who is the bestselling author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gates of Fire), is to prevent you from doing the work you are called to do. Resistance wants you to take it easy, to be ordinary and mediocre, to take the low road. Resistance is the reason so many people place a basket over the brilliant candle that shines within them. The fight against Resistance is, Pressfield says, a war to the death.
Pressfield disputes the standard motivational cliché that you can have, do, or be anything if you follow the right formula and just work hard enough. Rather, he says: "We are not born with unlimited choices... Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal that we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it."
There are two occasions when Resistance will be the most relentless, and they are related. The first is when something really matters to you. "Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it." If your lifelong goal is to be a writer, a rejection letter from a publisher will hurt a whole lot more than if you submitted your manuscript on a dare.
The second occasion that Resistance is most dangerous is related to what Pressfield calls "the mother of all fears," namely the fear that you will actually succeed. Resistance builds as you get closer to the finish line. "At this point, Resistance knows we're about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it's got." There is a real paradox here: the closer you get to reaching that proverbial tipping point, where things are really starting to click, the more likely you are to engage in the self-sabotaging behavior that is the calling card of Resistance.
Pressfield offers a prescription for defeating Resistance. You must, he says, become "a pro." But he does not mean that in the sense of earning a living at the work, in the sense of being a member of a certain profession, or in the sense of being looked up to by your peers. Rather, he simply means showing up every day with your lunch pail and getting to work. Much of the book has to do with how you make this transformation so that you can do the work that you are called to do.
I have made a small poster with this quote from Steve's book and placed it prominently above my computer: "There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work." My own next book has been on the back-burner for far too long, victim to Resistance. But now I have a weapon: Every time Resistance stands between me and doing my work, I pull Steve's book from out of my bookshelf and beat Resistance over the head. Then in that very second, I sit down and do my work. And it's working.Read more ›
I posted a review of this book over a year ago, right after I read it for the first time. I gave it three stars at that time because, other than the first section dealing with resistence in a practical sense, I found the rest of the book to be too esoteric. Since then I have done a tremendous amount of soul-searching regarding my inner drive to become a writer. That search took me back to this book recently, and after reading it for a second time I have to say I don't know what I was thinking when I gave it only three stars. Today I truly believe it is worthy of five stars because it struck deep into my conscience and helped me understand my situation and the situation of others like me. Anyone who is trying to tap into the inspiration they sense burning somewhere inside them that tells them to go out and write - or to create any other kind of art - will benefit tremendously if they open their minds and prepare themselves for rigorous introspection. This is not a simple self-help or how-to book. It is a truly profound examination of the human mind and the quest for fulfillment that we all feel.
One thing is certain: Steven Pressfield was compelled by whatever source provides him inspiration for his craft to write this book. This is not a labor of love; it is a labor of compulsion. The book is also certain to draw extreme reviews: some will love it; others won't. Middle ground is unlikely. The book manifests itself: I don't think Steven Pressfield cares if he sells one copy, nor does he care whether we like it or not. He only knows that this was a book he had to write. I'm glad he did. The War of Art is a real-world extension of Bagger Vance, the Jonathan Livingston Seagull of the `90's. Pressfield's presentation draws comparison to many statements that have floated around in my head over the years. JLS said "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self here and now." In the second edition of the Star War series (in the late `70's?) Yoda tells Luke Skywalker, "There is no try." Either do it or don't do it. The War of Art makes a strong case for both of these concepts. I was a fighter pilot for nearly 10 years, edited and published a newspaper for two, and entered the battlefield of corporate America two decades ago. As I concluded Pressfield's book, I was overwhelmed with the bittersweet feeling that I truly wished I had read this book when I was 20, not 52. Only having read one or two randomly selected pages when I got the book, I emailed by 20-year-old son in New Hampshire and made it "mandatory reading." He called me within 48 hours, and I couldn't fail to see the impression The War of Art had made on him. "Dad," he said, "For the first time in my life, I can see all the time I've wasted ...." The impact was as real as it was profound. I read once that "the only thing in the middle of the road is yellow stripes and dead armadillos." Pressfield powerfully demands that the reader has to make affirmative choices to accomplish any calling in life; there is no middle of the road. He deftly explains why so few people reach their own God-given and inspired potential and offers his path for reaching that potential. Even at 52-years-old, I will change my life having read this book. I sense my son will too. There are concepts that I cannot nor would I fully commit to. Nonetheless, Pressfield has professed an approach to life, be it art or otherwise, that will work. Whether you love this book or hate it, I guarantee it will make you think, and it will alter your approach to life, the path you've taken and the pace of your journey.Read more ›
If you have a passion in your life -- writing, painting, music, sculpting, dancing, acting -- and if this passion is the reason you believe you're alive, then check out this book. One of Pressfield's premises is that we're all MEANT for something, we're each here for some reason, to create something in the world (Eternity is in love with the productions of time) and if we don't live for and through this, then we're wasting our time. He blasts away even the most stubborn and alluring resistances - the excuses we tell ourselves for not doing the work. This book can rev you up -- it's short (165 pages)and powerful. I breezed through the book in a few hours and felt energized. Pressfield puts art-making in perspective, puts procastination in perspective, and delivers in a direct, conversational tone -- as one human who is trying to live a life that means something to another. I've read a lot of "how to" books and most don't live up to their hype. This one deals with how to overcome the obstacles of ambition and how (and why) to discipline yourself. As much as a cliche as it may sound, it will make a difference in how you look at what you do. Give it to anyone else you know who wants to write, paint, act, dance, compose, and wants to follow their dream.
Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, The Profession, The Lion's Gate, The War of Art, Turning Pro, The Authentic Swing, Do the Work and The Warrior Ethos.
His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was adapted for screen. A film of the same title was released in 2000, directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron.
His father was in the Navy, and he was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943. Since graduating from Duke University in 1965, he has been a U.S. Marine, an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital and screenwriter.
His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in The War of Art, Turning Pro and The Authentic Swing.
There's a recurring character in his books, named Telamon, a mercenary of ancient days. Telamon doesn't say much. He rarely gets hurt or wounded. And he never seems to age. His view of the profession of arms is a lot like Pressfield's conception of art and the artist:
"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."