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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles Paperback – January 11, 2012
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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.
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Top customer reviews
It guided me to the dark places of my soul, filled with a clarity and call a for action. No longer could I deny myself the fact that I had become a Master in my own creative avoidance techniques. Not to get down and do the work, but find all the reasons why I shouldn't. "The War of Art" slapped me in the face with my own resistance. We can only do change, when we are fully aware and awake. I am both, now. I am not saying that it I am perfect. But, I am more aware when I come up with my patters of excuses. This book is a fantastic addition to the knowledge a writer must possess. Do you have it?
Resistance is both personal and impersonal. It never quits. Never. And its purpose is to destroy us.
Resistance manifests itself in an infinite number of ways through internal and external forces, but, make no mistake, its main source of power is from within. It is fueled by our own fear. We fuel it. We strengthen our own worst enemy.
To defeat Resistance, one must become a professional. This is described in the second section, Combating Resistance – Turning Pro. The term “Pro” is not literal (though it could be). The professional is one who does his or her work every day, no matter what. Because he is a writer, Pressfield describes his daily routine as a writer in both literal and figurative terms. The key is that the professional does his work every day. Doing the work is a battle, which he eventually overcomes each day. After the work is done for the day, or when his time is up, he can rest and enjoy leisure time. But it’s not long before he’s thinking of the next day’s battle with Resistance.
The professional understands that this battle will be and must be fought daily. It is a battle fought by anyone pursuing his or her purpose, doing his or her work. Becoming a professional is the surest way to beat Resistance. It’s not easy, but we must approach our work as if were being paid for it.
The third section, The Higher Realm, discusses angel and the muses. These are our allies in the war against Resistance, in the war to do our work. It is doing our work and being a professional, that calls down the forces of Heaven, of Creation, to assist us. This section is mystical, but also practical. It is also inspirational.
Not that I would ever want to make this choice, but if I could only have ten books, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, would be one of them. Except for the Bible and The Power of Now, no other book has affected me as much as this one. I listen to or read this book at least three times a year. My debt to Mr. Pressfield for this book can never be repaid, except by doing my work.
The War of Art helped me realize that I allowed fear to keep me from doing what was most important to me. I spent years knowing what I wanted, but being afraid to move forward. This book helped me see what I was fighting. I was fighting laziness and fear, but most of all, I was fighting the calling to do my work and to live my life fully, as it was meant to be lived.
If you’re feeling unfulfilled or frustrated with your life, it may be because you are not doing the work you were put on this planet to do. The War of Art may help you see that and it may also help you to make some decisions to move forward. You may see what has been holding you back for so long, how to change your habits, and how to enter into a new life, a far more meaningful one. You may realize that you aren’t alone in your struggle, and that millions are going through the same struggle. But you will also see that you have to face your own resistance alone. Best of all, you will see that, though the battle is a daily one, it can be won. You can beat Resistance.
Quotes from the Book
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down
every day and trying.”
“Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”
“We feed it [Resistance] with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.”
Go to his blog for more encouragement.
Go to my blog for more book discussions.
Some say that one key element in Truth is its universal nature. Well, the biggest thing The War of Art helped me understand is that what I'm experiencing is exactly what many other creatives experience and find hard to explain. Many times simply naming and defining something that is otherwise intangible is the biggest first step in defeating that which is holding us back. That's the biggest thing this book did for me; it gave my enemy a name and an intelligence report to go with it. Two huge factors that will help me fight my enemy better in the years to come.
If you're a true creative and have yet to find any level of success or achievement that you HONESTLY feel you're capable of achieving (note: such as receiving good, solid feedback and critique on your work yet still struggle), then I highly recommend taking a look at The War of Art. If you're a writer that has struggled and grappled with an idea and the writing process and FEEL the sands of time slipping away, I would say that not reading The War of Art is throwing away an opportunity to turn things around or gain a little edge. It's certainly worth the day or two that it will take to read through it once and assess.
Lastly, Id'd say that if you read The War of Art and have drawn a complete blank as to the merits of its contents...good luck with your writing endeavors, you're going to need it!
Definitely a must read for anyone struggling to stay motivated. Or just anyone in general.