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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an unorthodox book. You'll finish it in a day or two. It's filled with words like "Resistance" that sound like self-help buzzwords. It isn't. It's a very apt and all-encompassing term for the forces that keep you from doing your life's work, whatever that may be. Distraction, apathy, booze, procrastination, excuses, toxic relationships, depression, and my favorite of Pressfield's: "compulsive screwing up", just to name a few. Anyone honest with himself who has ever claimed to have "writer's block" knows it's a cop-out, an excuse for not sitting down at an empty screen/page, and doing the work.
This book will kick you in the ass and show you how you've been self-sabotaging yourself. It will also fire you up and give you the strength you need to press on and do the work. Pressfield is a kindly drill-sergeant; he holds no punches but you get the feeling that he really wants you to succeed.
As I read the opening chapter on resistance I saw my guilty self on each page. Illusions were shattered. but it inspired me to sit down at the blank screen and do it. You'll read it once and then refer to it again and again as you might work with a coach on your golf swing.
It's a blue-print, not a map, and everyone's experience will be slightly different as they work through their own demons creating their blocks, so don't expect this to solve your problems. It's up to you to kill your own Minotaur. YOU have to do the work. Identifying the things in life that hold you back, the negative thought patterns, perfectionism, etc., is only the beginning.
The third part of the book, the part that addresses that thorny issue of where ideas and inspiration comes from, will be where many will fall by the wayside. Pressfield cautions you not to hold on too tightly to that precious gemstone you call your "talent", and open yourself to other possibilites, that there may be a higher dimensional energy at work here and that we, the artists, writers, dancers, whatever, are only the agents that this energy works through. Call it what you want. god, the universe, the tao, whatever. I think it was jazz great Charlie Parker that said when asked where his ideas come from, "I just try to get out of the way". He meant that he suspended all ego and allowed the work to flow through him from a higher plane. not comfortable with all this higher-dimensional nonsense? Maybe it's not for you.
But The War of Art will help you. It's helping me. Try his other one, Do The Work as well; some of it is redundant, but is still very worth it. you have nothing to lose, only your blocks, so open your mind and try it.
"The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear, then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there's no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist. What Henry Fonda does, after puking into the toilet in his dressing room, is to clean up and march out onstage. He's still terrified but he forces himself forward in spite of his terror. He knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he'll be okay."
~ Steven Pressfield from The War of Art
This is the 109th review I've created. Up to this point, I've made a lot of strong recommendations on books I think you'd love but I've never said you *must* read a particular book.
I'm gonna break that streak here.
If you're a creative person, you need to read this book. It's that good. And, when I say "creative person" I mean anyone who's committed to creating an authentically awesome life. (And, given the fact that you're reading this, my hunch is that clearly means YOU!)
I'm not sure how many times I've read The War of Art over the years but it's a lot. Each time I pick it up I get a swift kick in the creative butt and my life takes a significant step forward.
As the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and a number of great best-selling novels (my favorite beyond Bagger Vance is Gates of Fire--an incredible portrayal of the classic Spartan warriors), Steven Pressfield knows what it's like to create. He has an extraordinary way of capturing the challenges we face in the War of Art--along with the means by which we can overcome those obstacles (or, as he calls it "Resistance"). Powerful stuff.
Here's just a few of the Big Ideas:
1. Throwing Up - It happens.
2. Work & Its By-Products - Let results take care of themselves.
3. True Love - The amateur vs. the professional.
4. It's 9 O'Clock - Time for inspiration to strike.
5. Time to Turn Pro - A checklist.
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