REVIEW: THE WAR OF ART
PRODUCT (Book): THE WAR OF ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
AUTHOR: Steven Pressfield
PUBLISHER: Black Irish Entertainment LLC 
I am reading my latest copy of Steven Pressfield’s book, THE WAR OF ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.
It is a slim thing, less than 200 pages long. It is made up of gunslinger-sharp mini-essays (some of them only one paragraph long) that examine and delineate the obstacles you will most certainly encounter every time you try to make your deepest dreams come real.
THE DARK FORCE
Most of those obstacles and hurdles on the road to your dream rise up from inside your own self. Pressfield calls this dark force “Resistance” (always with a capital “R”).
Pressfield’s rule of thumb is this: “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.” That one’s a truth.
Any time you decide to make even a small change in your life that requires some kind of long-term effort, this dark force will appear. If you are bent on doing a thing that demands that you step outside of your comfort zone or give up or forego some instantly available pleasure, the dark force springs into action.
Opportunities instantly appear to sidetrack you from your goal. The dancing girls and randy studs pop out of the woodwork all ready to party down. Your favorite boutique or parts store throws a monster gotta-get-it sale. Your best bud comes up with a truly awesome idea that is guaranteed to stack up the big bucks really, really fast.
RESISTING THE RESISTANCE
In the second section of his book Pressfield presents a mindset that helps you bypass all the glitter and go for the gold. He calls this mindset “Turning Pro.”
It comes complete with weapons and ammo – life strategies and mind-games – that you, too, can tote around and use to get over yourself and gun down the sneaky, villainous opposition that lurks in your head.
Here’s a You-Tube video, Steven Pressfield: Overcoming Resistance, posted by Positively Positive.
If the book ended with this second section, it would still be an exceptionally insightful and useful business how-to-do-it book for tackling the self-sabotage and self-delusions that distract you from your dreams.
But, then, Pressfield takes it up another notch….
TO THE NEXT LEVEL
In the third section of this little book he sets out to tell you the “why” of doing all this convoluted dancing around. Pressfield accomplishes this aim most handily. You need to read it yourself to feel and be affected by the mana it holds. (I’m not going to spoil it for you.)
WHY I HAVE A NEW COPY OF AN OLD BOOK
THE WAR OF ART first came out in 2002. I devoured the thing and then re-read it many, many times in order to get the concepts to sink down into my bones. It helped straighten my head about how to break down the resistances that (even now) I keep on putting up against following my own heartsong.
Over the years I’ve bought a replacement copy of this book whenever I notice that it is no longer sitting on my bookshelf. It goes missing because I keep lending the thing to friends and they invariable “forget” to give it back. (Sigh!)
So…here I am with yet another copy of it. As I re-read it, I am reminded again of the value of this little book. Maybe you will find it valuable as well. Give it a shot!
Here’s a poem:
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Here it comes again.
It’s Thermopylae, Masada and the Alamo all over again –
A ragtag, beat-down band of little guys stand tall
As annihilation looms,
On the brink of being overwhelmed
By the massed forces of an invading army
That ripples like the tide
Across the landscape
As far as the eye can see.
The cavalry ain’t coming, and it is NOT looking good.
So you stand at the edge of that mountain pass, that mesa, that wall,
And you have to wonder…
What is the POINT of all this?
Us humans do this stuff over and over again,
Caught up in the dark tide,
Stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time,
We give it our best shot,
And, of course, it is not enough.
And the people who come after us
Make up all those glorious, useless, blood-and-gut stories
That rise up like phoenixes out of our ashes.
And the world goes on,
Dancing in a new light that shines
On a different world than the one
We fought so hard to keep,
The one we lost,
The one they dream about.
The Tai Ch’i turns,
Light in the dark,
Dark in the light,
And maybe that is the only lesson:
The Dark doesn’t win,
And neither does the Light.
The only constant, always, is change.
By Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: via Amazon.com (book)
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14 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE WAR OF ART”
I think that reading is something that we all should do, but sometimes we need to know that what we are going to read is worth the effort and time. The way you summarised the book is excellent, and leaving the last part to be read is great. Love the way it was presented, love that you finish with a poem, and that you engage the reader to take action and get the book from amazon. Maybe you could put a link after you encourage to read the last part, that would be my only comment.
Hey Juan Carlos:
Thanks for the visit and for your comments. After looking over the last part, I agreed with your assessment and added “The Ask.” (I always forget that part! Thanks for the reminder!)
Please do come again!
This looks like a very good book. I watched the video and liked his idea about turning our minds pro. I recognised myself in the resistance he speaks of when I put up road blocks in my way.
Whatever we do we need to do it to the absolute best of our ability. After that what is there really. Even failure loses its potency if we can say that we gave it our best shot.
Thanks for pointing out this book.
You are very welcome, Deb. Thanks for the visit and your comments. Please do come again….
You know how sometimes you stumble across something that just resonates with you… That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. The “walk your talk” section there was a video about resilience, and I needed to see that right now. I cant wait to see what more you have in store.
Thank you for visiting and exploring my website and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it. I’m glad you found something that was helpful for you.
Please do come again….
From your review, which is really more of a teaser, I don’t really feel that I know enough about the book to decide if I like it and want to buy it, or if I feel it unuseful to me and therefore need to pass it by.
You mention this dark resistance. What exactly does the author say it is and what exactly does the author say we should do about it. Since this is your second copy of the book, I’d like some deep insight into the author and his ideas.
And what is this “mana” about? Is that your word or his? Basically, I need a lot more detail than you are giving me. So far, I am not intrigued enough to look further into the book’s ideas.
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m sorry the post was not one that was helpful to you. The “deep insights” you require, I think, are contained in the book itself. If you feel you don’t want to buy it, then I would suggest checking it out from your public library.
I do think the 2-minute YouTube video included in the post does explain the author’s viewpoint quite handily. “Resistance” is the author’s name for the self-sabotage one engages in when faced with a situation that requires moving away from one’s comfort zone and Pressfield does, basically, explain his antidote for it.
I’ve tried it. It works.
“Mana” is a Hawaiian word that encompasses the internal power each human carries that helps make our walk through this world uniquely ours. It’s a good thing.
Hope that helps.
As the saying goes, we can be our worse enemy. The inner demon we all constantly battle are we are telling ourselves we are not worthy, we cannot do this. How are we to overcome these uncertainties that we face every day. For a book it sounds a short one but as long as it helps individuals then the length is irrelevant.
I always say someone could read a book and get nothing out of it, whilst other read it and get so much insight from it.
I enjoy the poem at the end
Antonio, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. You are right. Very often, we are our own worst enemy. Pressfield’s advice on how to face down the inner demons are very useful and they do work if you actually DO what he says. As a professional freelance writer the guy does know what he is talking about.
I’m glad you like the poem.
Please do come again….
I have heard of this book before. I actually have a friend who has read this book and was telling me how amazing this book is. I told myself that I will purchase it next year when I decide to take my reading more seriously. Thank you for reminding me again how important it is to read
Daniel, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do hope you enjoy the book. Many people have found it very helpful.
Please do come again.
Yes, the only constant is always changes. I do agree with that so much as I realized this in my 20’s and tried very hard to roll with the changes. It has helped my life to flow better over the years as I enjoyed the ability to pivot into new ideas and build different skills to weather the changes.
The War of Art sounds like a fascinating read and one that I will be reading very soon. I might learn some better skills, thanks.
Welcome back, Lily. The book was written by a guy who has been down in the trenches as a working artist. It is down-to-earth and very helpful.
Please do come again.