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The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle Hardcover – May 1, 2002
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A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.
What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor-be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?
Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.
Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.
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From Library Journal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Rugged Land; F First Edition Used (May 1, 2002)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1590710037
- ISBN-13 : 978-1590710036
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.75 x 7.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #852,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 28, 2018
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Top reviews from the United States
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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." I'm not against a religious message, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I felt like the author was trying to proselytize me.
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. This is advice that could kill someone. 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 is a snapshot of a specific artist's mental model of the creative struggle. I makes claims and gives advice that is unsupportable, incorrect, and sometimes contradictory. If you are reading this with a critical or skeptical eye, then you are unlikely to enjoy it. I really think that for this book to speak to you, you need to accept it at face value - almost as a scripture or gospel.
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.
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!
He talks a ton about resistance, and while what he speaks of is real, his methods are - vapid.
There is no advice here either. Pray to the muse? The world is full of angels?
This book has been helpful to many, and will likely continue to do so.
For me, this is quickly in my recycle bin to try to get a couple of bucks and get something I will actually enjoy reading.
Top reviews from other countries
Clearly Steven has read widely across cultures, subject matter and literature. Clearly he has a talent for writing. But as a non-fiction work, I think this was poorly targeted.
It srarts with a kick-ass be a professional, not an amateur section - which I entirely agree with and enjoyed.
It then descends into a religious and philosophical rant that had little meaning or relevance to me.
Maybe if the blurb had made it clearer who it was targeted at, i.e. religious writers, seeking answers as to where they get their talent, then I wouldn't have picked it up.
Clearly the right target audience find it inspiring. The blurb didn't make it clear that I'm not part of it.
And you feel that HIGH once a book is finished, eager and enthusiastic to apply all the knowledge you've gained and to see some results.
And the days go by... you slowly realize you're actually going nowhere, atleast not as much as you desire and expected.
You know what to do, you know how to do, but you won't seem to be able to apply the knowledge in realtime. And it sucks, i know that feeling.
And you slowly fall into the vicious circle.
You slowly take some other book that you hope atleast will help with your problem.
You pick a book.... you'll read... feels motivated.... days go by.... you realize.... it sucks... you start again( i hope)
THIS IS WHERE "TheWARofART" is a LIFE SAVING BOOK.
When you see that you're going nowhere even after knowing what to do. You'll slowly fall into the depressing thought process that may be YOU WILL NEVER BE THAT GUY YOU WANNA BE.
In every self-help book that we read hardly anyone was able to put the problem we are facing in such a way like in WARofART, where it truly kicks in your ass and makes you aware of the RESISTANCE you're facing ever since you know your self.
if you suck at taking ACTION about anything, and feeling how to do it. Just pick up this book and read it... take the book with you, when ever you're feeling of resistance or its disguised forms, read few pages from the book.
I bet you wont be sitting there idle once you finish this true gem of a book.. but will go and do your long held unfinished, undared stuff.
This is my first review ever since i'm puchasing books/anything from amazon. I thought of writing for some.. but you see RESISTANCE is a b***h. but now I did.
It's all those simple actions that makes a difference in a long run. And WarOfArt will help you beat the RESISTANCE and take that ACTION.
All the best. :)