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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles Paperback – April 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; 3.2.2003 edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446691437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446691437
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,264 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

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."

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Customer Reviews

The book is easy to read and very enjoyable.
Matthew P. Jarvis
I cannot recommend this book too highly for anyone wishing to be a creative artist--particularly writers.
B. Robinson
The demonic force which keeps us from doing our work is identified by Pressfield as "Resistance."
Jeremy Myers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

694 of 725 people found the following review helpful By Joe Tye on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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544 of 573 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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139 of 145 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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189 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Pettit VINE VOICE on November 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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