- Paperback: 190 pages
- Publisher: Black Irish Entertainment LLC; 47716th edition (January 11, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936891026
- ISBN-13: 978-1936891023
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3,117 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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"A vital gem...A kick in the ass for all of us with a tendency towards procrastination."
"Amazingly cogent and smart on the psychology of creation."
About the Author
STEVEN PRESSFIELD is the author of Turning Pro, Do the Work, The Warrior Ethos and the international bestselling novels, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, The Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, and The Profession. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Top customer reviews
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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!
"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.
To find 250+ more reviews visit http://bit.ly/BrianReviews
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.