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I have been preparing and studying to lead a class in studying more deeply the book of Revelation.
— Amazon Customer
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.
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 is an absolutely amazing book on self-discipline and creativity.
If you're an entrepreneur, an artist, a writer, scientist or just about anybody with an internal urge to CREATE something but cannot because of distractions, fears, doubts and apprehensions, then this is the book for you.
This will book show and define the #1 thing that's stopping you from bringing out your creative potential. It's called Resistance and how it behaves and how it beats you.
And then it stresses why we should overcome the resistance and how to overcome it successfully by detaching ourselves from the fruits, operating from a territorial perspective (i.e. Doing work for the sake of doing work).
By the time I reached the small chapter on Gita and Krishna's explanation on doing work for work's sake, I literally had tears in my eyes.
... Because that's the way an artist must operate, not caring for the fruits.
And I can attest my success in my business & job for JUST that. I gave up all hopes, desires & doubts I had.
I didn't care. I just decided to do the work, punched in my time and 3 years later, I'm at a level that's shocking for many (but something I dreamed about).
However, I still have a lot of blocks where I didn't express myself and get the creative part of me and I'm fortunate to have come across this book.
Anyone who is here to CREATE something - read it. It will change your life!
TLDR: This book is a written equivalent of Shia LeBeouf's "Just Do It" motivational speech - something that tries to be inspiring, but is cut with an undercurrent of crazy and unsupportable conjecture. It will resonate with some people and turn others off. Read on for a more detailed explanation.
The books is, roughly, divided into three sections: Resistance, Combating Resistance, and Beyond Resistance.
The first section was actually really good. It mostly got into what Resistance is - the counterforce to achievement - and the various ways it manifests itself. While not based on any sort of evidence or research, this section lays out an allegorical enemy worthy of an epic struggle.
The second section is mostly about how a professional behaves and how this behavior can overcome Resistance. The summary of this section is: show up, do the work, don't get distracted. This was the most prescriptive section of the book, but I'd say it leaned more towards inspiration than prescription. If someone complains that this book is "just common sense", it is probably this section they are referring to.
Emboldened by a couple solid sections, the author goes completely off the rails in the third. The book becomes very religious, espouses lousy pop psychology, and makes outlandish claims. If I were to sum this section up, I'd say the author puts forth the idea that the artist is a conduit for some sort of divine inspiration or work, made manifest through the benevolent intervention of angels. That might be slightly harsh summary, but not too far off the mark. He literally says "We were put here on earth to act as agents of the Infinite" and "The artist is the servant of that intention, those angels, that Muse." Okay, perhaps he's just being allegorical. Nope. When talking about the fruits of our labor, he says "That is to do the work and give it to Him. Do it as an offering to God."
Putting the religious aspects of section 3 aside, the rest of it is the worst kind of shoot-from-the-hip psychology. He does a deep dive into the Ego - ignoring the conventional definition and redefines it for his own purposes. He tries to draw a distinction between a hierarchical and territorial mode of thinking - unsuccessfully. He makes outlandish claims, like ignoring the authentic self may be the cause of cancer and embracing the self might be its cure. He, literally, says that becoming your authentic self could cure cancer. He goes on to explain how the colloquialisms for inebriation - stoned, smashed, hammered - are all referring to the destruction of the Ego in order to access the Self. There's no etymological basis for his statement. There isn't even any anecdotal evidence to support this. When speaking about the relationship between a mother and her child, he says "She knows it came out of her but not from her, through her but not of her." It's an interesting thought, but biologically incorrect. Lastly, he makes claims that are openly contrary. He says "Union and mutual assistance are the imperatives of life", but a few pages later says it would be incorrect to call friends for reassurance if you were feeling anxious. To me, this section felt like a mess and it ruined the book for me.
In summary, this book does not have any sort of authoritative voice on procrastination, productivity, or personal achievement. It is a snapshot of a specific artist's mental model of the creative struggle. If you are looking for some sort of cogent or practical insights, then you will be disappointed. If you would describe yourself as spiritual and, probably, believe that crystals have curative properties (no judgement), then this book will probably speak to you.
I read the foreword and first groaned a little with the god talk. I continued to read. I couldn't make it to book three. This the first time in awhile I couldn't finish a book. Judging by how much I agree with many of the other 1 star reviews, I can only expect a greater degree of suffering and discomfort as the book "goes off the rails" in book 3. I find it interesting the five star reviews that say this book is motivating. I actually found it depressing and full of negative energy. It's riddled with feelings of guilt (the Christian kind), xenophobia, intolerance, disarray and just plain ignorance. It's full of strong opinions and weak on coherence and logical reasoning. I found the author contradictory in many cases. Also, the format is terribly annoying.
Summary: Book 1: stop procrastinating. Book 2: just do it. Book 3: make art for god? If there is a god, please help steer others away from this silly book.
What. An. Awful. Book. If you happen to have add or adhd, or an anxiety disorder--and if you're a writer looking for ways to be more productive, you just might--pass this one up. You'll find a writer all too willing to claim to have invented your experience-defining disorder in a copywriting meeting, among other less egregious examples of neurobigotry. In general, this is a big positivity stroke fest and provides very little in the way of actual useful infirmation or procedure for those of use who need it most.
Thought provoking book. The sections on Resistance really resonated with me. I can find a thousand things to do instead of creating my art and, at my age, if I don't take control and overcome Resistance pretty soon, my time will be up. Not being a "God" believer, the last part of the book left me cold. I suppose I could extrapolate those sections into forces of the universe, but it was a let down to have to wade through all that anyway. One message is clear: Start. Open your eyes and your heart to supporting forces (people) that will cross your path (like never noticing another Land Rover on the road until you buy one and suddenly they are everywhere), and create for the sake of creating.