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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

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The Art of War meets "The Artist's Way" in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.


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The Art of War meets "The Artist's Way" in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.

30 review for The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bradley

    Reading this book is like fishing through a landfill site for diamonds; they're there, just buried under mountains of crap. The central thesis is that procrastination is often harmful to our long-term success, and of this point I have no disagreement. However the majority of the book is replete with superstition, thinly veiled proselytizing, bullshit facts, and other miscellaneous woo-woo including: * Hitler was an artist that started WWII because he was procrastinating, and, as a result of this, Reading this book is like fishing through a landfill site for diamonds; they're there, just buried under mountains of crap. The central thesis is that procrastination is often harmful to our long-term success, and of this point I have no disagreement. However the majority of the book is replete with superstition, thinly veiled proselytizing, bullshit facts, and other miscellaneous woo-woo including: * Hitler was an artist that started WWII because he was procrastinating, and, as a result of this, nobody has seen his paintings. (Seriously, Google his art. He sucked at being a decent human being but was a pretty good artist!) * Procrastination is the root of erectile dysfunction! * Terminal and non-terminal cancer patients go into remission because they achieve some goal that makes them happy. (This is a particularly egregious assertion!) * People that procrastinate develop tumors and mental illness. * If people overcame procrastination, prisons would magically empty, nobody would get cosmetic surgery or drink alcohol, pharmaceutical companies would collapse, hospitals would close, and all doctors would be out of a job! Dandruff would even cease to exist! * When you do something to better yourselves, other people may get sick. Indeed, you may allegedly get sick as a way to avoid bettering your life. * The author makes an unsubstantiated claim that diseases such as ADHD, seasonal affective disorder, and social anxiety disorder are not real and were invented by marketing departments and drug companies to make a quick buck. * 70-80% of people that go to the doctor aren't sick, but are just being dramatic. * Professionals should without question ignore any and all criticism because all criticism from others is an act of envy, rather than a tool to improve. (Oops!) * Some mystical bullshit was the driving force behind Hamlet, the Parthenon, and Nude Descending a Staircase, not actual people. This book is very absolutist and extremist, and fails to take into account the occasions an internal resistance to doing something is not true procrastination, but the cornerstone of good judgment and sometimes even self-preservation. The author even goes so far to say that taking care of your eight month pregnant wife is a form of procrastination! It's almost as if the author hasn't debated the ideas in this book with himself or others, but just started uncritically penning all his unfiltered thoughts into this book. This book earned its second star for being unintentionally funny in places and for the occasional nugget of crap-coated wisdom. If you read this book, find the wisdom (there's very little), clean it up, and make a note. Discard the rest. It's a short read especially as many of the pages are half, or even two thirds empty; just keep keep your critical thinking skills switched on. How this book got so many glowing reviews and recommendations is beyond me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I couldn't get into this book. I've read and reread it several times, but it just doesn't do it for me. I gave it the second star because he does give some good advice about committing to the work, and staying in the seat. Some good bits about discipline and such. I have about 13 years of collegiate and graduate art school under my belt, and I've worked in the fine and commercial arts. Thing is, I hate seeing the challenge of making art turn into this romanticized, epic battle between the poor pu I couldn't get into this book. I've read and reread it several times, but it just doesn't do it for me. I gave it the second star because he does give some good advice about committing to the work, and staying in the seat. Some good bits about discipline and such. I have about 13 years of collegiate and graduate art school under my belt, and I've worked in the fine and commercial arts. Thing is, I hate seeing the challenge of making art turn into this romanticized, epic battle between the poor put-upon artist and Mighty Resistance. Maybe it's just that I've heard so much dreck about artists being "prophets" and such over the years that it just hits a sore spot. Plus, there's the idea he puts forward that you haven't really turned "pro" until you've dismissed all non-art related activity from your life. He's awfully judgmental against those who strive for a balanced, comprehensive life as opposed to a two-dimensional one. A better book, more honest and less pretentious, is Art and Fear.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sundry

    I like to have a writing book around to dip into when I get stuck or frustrated or just to keep me going. This one started out with some interesting ideas, but it ended up not being very supportive. A little bullying, in fact. Toward the end, it's a lot of religious pronouncements and philosophy that I didn't agree with or find very helpful. It felt a bit rigid.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Ken

    Holden Caulfield would love this, as would Ernest Hemingway. HC had it in for the phonies, and Pressfield has no use for them, either. Only he's met the enemy and it is himself. And you, gentle reader, need only a mirror to find your enemy. Pressfield calls it "Resistance," and it lurks in all of us. What's more, it's every excuse you can possibly think of to delay doing what the Muse put you on this earth to do: procrastination, rationalizations, physical sicknesses, psychological conditions wi Holden Caulfield would love this, as would Ernest Hemingway. HC had it in for the phonies, and Pressfield has no use for them, either. Only he's met the enemy and it is himself. And you, gentle reader, need only a mirror to find your enemy. Pressfield calls it "Resistance," and it lurks in all of us. What's more, it's every excuse you can possibly think of to delay doing what the Muse put you on this earth to do: procrastination, rationalizations, physical sicknesses, psychological conditions with funny letters, family, drama, Twitter, Facebook, busywork, alcohol, drugs, television, your cellphone, fatigue, hopelessness, etc. Hemingway? Oh, yeah. To make it more personal for those who would write, EH called out the faux writers who wanted to be seen "writing" at the cafés of Paris in the 1920's. It was the Lost Generation's version of "I'm not a writer, but I play one in cafés." Pressfield, a writer as well, often alludes to the trade in The War of Art. Too often, writing is something phonies talk of doing and dream of doing but just don't do, or do sporadically, or make excuses as to why they can't do it, or do and fail once or twice, then quit. "Amateurs," Pressfield calls them. The world is split between the "pros" who sit down, roll up their sleeves, and DO IT every day (and he does mean every day) and the "amateurs" who talk a good story while shopping at Excuses R Us. Of course, the same applies to most anything the Dreamy You dreams (or once dreamed) of doing. Should you be working out now? Dieting? Training for a marathon? Swimming? Writing? Painting? Volunteering? Reading classics? Starting your own business? You name it, you can do it, but you choose not to. That's right. It's a choice, and we make it easy on ourselves. This little manual falls in the dictionary under “quick read.” Esquire magazine calls it “a kick in the ass,” and I can’t argue with that description. Pressfield pulls no punches. He has little choice. The Pretenders are legion and their excuses like Orc armies -- seemingly endless. The book is divided in three. Part One is simply called “Resistance: Defining the Enemy” and leads off with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “The enemy is a very good teacher.” Pressfield identifies resistance in its every form. Trust me when I say you'll recognize yourself, perhaps multiple times over. As the book was penned in 2002, however, he neglects to mention more prevalent forms of "Resistance" that exist today. "I'll start my work, sure... but first, let me check my Twitter feed... or let me check updates on Facebook... or I have to check e-mail and reply to a few folks... or reading can wait because I need to TALK about reading on Goodreads (which, ironically, cuts deeply into reading time, which is sacrificed on the altar of social time masquerading as reading time)." Hoo, boy. Maybe even reading The War of Art is a form of delaying what I should be doing -- writing. Then again, I'm writing this review. Is that writing? One voice (amateur) says yes, but another (pro) says no, it's slumming -- a shameless ploy for "likes" and comments, not me pursuing art or income as a freelance writer. Hmn. This is worse than I thought. Anyway, Part Two is called “Combating Resistance: Turning Pro” and leads with a Telamon of Arcadia quote: “It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.” Here's where Pressfield delineates the true pros who tolerate no excuses from “amateurs” who live by them. Page after page, he shares how a professional lives every day: "A Professional Is Patient," "A Professional Seeks Order," "A Professional Demystifies," "A Professional Acts in the Face of Fear," "A Professional Accepts No Excuses," "A Professional Plays It As It Lays," "A Professional Does Not Take Failure (or Success) Personally," "A Professional Endures Adversity," "A Professional Self-Validates," and on and professionally on. No wonder being a slacker and killing hours online is easier. Part Three? It’s called “Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm” and its lead quote comes compliments of Xenophon: “The first duty is to sacrifice to the gods and pray them to grant you the thoughts, words, and deeds likely to render your command most pleasing to the gods and to bring yourself, your friends, and your city the fullest measure of affection and glory and advantage.” It’s about achievement once you’re disciplined and have mentally accepted the challenge. Interestingly, Pressfield shares some quirky opinions about Muses, angels, William Blake, William Wordsworth, self vs. ego, and hierarchal thinking vs. territorial thinking. Hint: choose self over ego, territory over hierarchy. Then mean what you say and spit out your excuses binky. Anyway, if you’ve ever wanted to write a book, poem, or screenplay; paint or dance or sing or act; start a business or charity; lose weight and exercise regularly until you look like you should look; run a marathon; fill-in-the-blank with your once-upon-a-time hope for yourself before Twitter and Facebook and e-mail and job and family and social drama and “health issues” and excuses dragged you down, this just might be your book. It's short, but worthy of rereading. I can imagine returning to certain excerpts for an old-fashioned butt-kicking, then getting back on that horse beside Nike ("Just Do It!") and working in "the smithy of my soul" like I ought to. I can also imagine unplugging, or at least creating more strict guidelines for bad habits that have snuck in to choke my creative being like so much hypnotic kudzu. Wait. Did I just say "imagine"? What an amateur pledge that was....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    This book is lightweight, derivative crap, written in the style of a self-hating self-help guru with blame the victim issues eighteen ways from Sunday. I tore out the two good pages, one of which was a quotation from W.H. Murray and the other of which quoted King Leonidas, and burned the book in the fireplace. That's how angry it made me. Horrible waste of paper and time. Really, you want more details? Okay. The author personifies Resistance and then writes a tiny little snippet about it, one pe This book is lightweight, derivative crap, written in the style of a self-hating self-help guru with blame the victim issues eighteen ways from Sunday. I tore out the two good pages, one of which was a quotation from W.H. Murray and the other of which quoted King Leonidas, and burned the book in the fireplace. That's how angry it made me. Horrible waste of paper and time. Really, you want more details? Okay. The author personifies Resistance and then writes a tiny little snippet about it, one per page, stretching a teaspoonful of insight out for seventy pages or so. Sure, we come up against resistance in every area of our lives. This isn't news to anyone. But the ways he personifies it contradict each other, or simply don't make any sense, or come across as pure page-filling psychobabble. Worst of all, he manages to blame the reader for everything. You feel resistance because it's easier! If you don't feel it, you're going the wrong way! If you don't feel it, you're making a step down in life. Sex is resistance! Food is resistance! Exercise is resistance! Everything good is resistance! Unless it isn't! Save yourself some pain and brain cells and avoid this book. It's condescending incoherent nonsense argued on the level of a Sunday school comic strip. I wish I could give it less than one star.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I dig it. There are a lot of negative reviews of it on Goodreads, mostly about it being derivative, and/or unnecessarily characterizing the creative process as a struggle. Guys: you picked up a self-help book. You picked up a book called "The War of Art". If you hoped for originality, or a touchy-feely art-is-easy book, you made a strange decision. I'm just saying. Personally, I found this book pretty useful. It's dense, wise, and low-bullshit. Spiritual, yes. Namby-pamby, no. It treats inspirati I dig it. There are a lot of negative reviews of it on Goodreads, mostly about it being derivative, and/or unnecessarily characterizing the creative process as a struggle. Guys: you picked up a self-help book. You picked up a book called "The War of Art". If you hoped for originality, or a touchy-feely art-is-easy book, you made a strange decision. I'm just saying. Personally, I found this book pretty useful. It's dense, wise, and low-bullshit. Spiritual, yes. Namby-pamby, no. It treats inspiration as a mystery (because, um, it is). It does not treat art as a mystery. It says, you can't manufacture inspiration, so get your butt in the chair, every day, and do the work so inspiration has the opportunity to come. I'm intrigued by his idea that the difference between a professional artist and an amateur is that the professional artist loves the art enough to arrange her/his life to allow him/her to do it full-time. An amateur, he says, isn't someone who does it only for the love; if the amateur really loved the art s/he wouldn't be content to be a weekend warrior. An amateur identifies with the work: "I make sandwiches for a living, and I'm an artist", whereas a professional does the work for its own sake: "I'm a person who writes novels for a living." He also does this Jungian analysis of where art comes from and where internal resistance comes from. I'm sure it's not earthshattering, but I'd never heard it before.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Turtell

    I read this book over and over again as necessary. It is the kick in the ass every artist needs, sometimes daily. Because we all face the same enemy, fight the same battle every day: Resistance. According to Pressman, this is the whole story. Every day you either win or lose your battle with resistance. All the rest is talk. Why you lost it doesn't matter. Maybe your mother didn't love you enough. Maybe you don't believe in yourself enough. Maybe you think you're not as talented as you wish you I read this book over and over again as necessary. It is the kick in the ass every artist needs, sometimes daily. Because we all face the same enemy, fight the same battle every day: Resistance. According to Pressman, this is the whole story. Every day you either win or lose your battle with resistance. All the rest is talk. Why you lost it doesn't matter. Maybe your mother didn't love you enough. Maybe you don't believe in yourself enough. Maybe you think you're not as talented as you wish you were. Well, so what? No one's mother loved them enough, all of us suffer from self-doubt (If you don't, you're a sociopath and I don't want to know you), and even Shakespeare wrote about "Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope." If Shakespeare sometimes thought he wasn't good enough, I think that lets the rest of us off the hook. The only answer is to get up every day and do your work to the best of your ability. That's all anyone does. I just watched a snippet of a video interview with the painter Chuck Close who said you don't need most of what you learn in grad school ever again. You need only three things: to know where to find the information you need, to develop good work habits, and to acquire the thickest skin possible and be able to listen to and ignore the most painful criticism imaginable. You have to be able to defend your own position and criticize others as harshly as they criticize you. And then just go ahead and do your own work. Great book. I recommend this more than any other book I've ever read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    An early chapter just grabbed me with this opening line, "Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." Those sentences grabbed me and have stayed with me. How much do I resist? How do I resist? Why do I resist? The reflection that chapter inspired was well worth reading the rest of the book though nothing else was as revolutionary for me-- I got what I needed early in the pages. There's also a fabulous quote from WH Murray later An early chapter just grabbed me with this opening line, "Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." Those sentences grabbed me and have stayed with me. How much do I resist? How do I resist? Why do I resist? The reflection that chapter inspired was well worth reading the rest of the book though nothing else was as revolutionary for me-- I got what I needed early in the pages. There's also a fabulous quote from WH Murray later, "The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too." It reminded me of why I like to operate from passion. That the things that I am doing because I feel I must or out of obligation are never easy. The things that I do from passion always spin out with dizzying force. When you act from passion, providence indeed moves. A timely reminder.

  9. 3 out of 5

    B.A. Wilson

    What a pretentious piece of ridiculous crap. It has: • Harmful, uninformed medical opinions (Why?? It's a book on creativity. Just NO.) • Bizarre and illogical assessments of historical figures • COMPLETELY FAKE STATISTICS (How did those even survive editing? You can't make figures up to back your outrageous opinions. You need real sources. They should be cited. This is the fastest way to enrage a librarian.) • Constant judgment (as if I can't get enough of that in small town Missouri) • So much repe What a pretentious piece of ridiculous crap. It has: • Harmful, uninformed medical opinions (Why?? It's a book on creativity. Just NO.) • Bizarre and illogical assessments of historical figures • COMPLETELY FAKE STATISTICS (How did those even survive editing? You can't make figures up to back your outrageous opinions. You need real sources. They should be cited. This is the fastest way to enrage a librarian.) • Constant judgment (as if I can't get enough of that in small town Missouri) • So much repetition I want to poke my eyes out (because I'm not an idiot and got it the first 50 times you said it) • And an exhausting, superior, egotistical attitude. I can't believe I wasted money on such a terrible book. It can go straight to hell, where I'm sure creative folk are being forced to read it for eternity--which is about the best argument I've ever heard for salvation. And yes, that's officially the meanest thing I've ever said about any book, ever, and I don't regret it. This book earned my disdain, and I'd like to save the rest of you from a terrible reading experience. Typically, I avoid posting one star ratings and reviews, but since this is parading about calling itself nonfiction, I have to interject to say it's nothing more than a bizarre and often offensive opinion piece, full of some very obvious statements about creativity. Don't read this drivel, unless you just enjoy judgmental, condescending monologues that go nowhere. If you want an interesting, thoughtful book on writing and creativity, try Stephen King's ON WRITING. UPDATE 5/16/2018: I just recently read Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, which is also good. Pages: 190

  10. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art Three stars in both content and delivery, but I should probably also disclose that I REALLY struggle with the whole self-help genre and this was basically just a self-help book for writers and artists. I'm not sure if it genetic, or shaped by my own experience on this blue dot, but I generally HATE all forms and types of self-help book. "The sub-genre “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art Three stars in both content and delivery, but I should probably also disclose that I REALLY struggle with the whole self-help genre and this was basically just a self-help book for writers and artists. I'm not sure if it genetic, or shaped by my own experience on this blue dot, but I generally HATE all forms and types of self-help book. "The sub-genre of "How to Create" books, however, are infinitely better than "How to Business" or "How to Love" or "How to Win". Even with the best writers (and I like Pressfield a lot) the lot are usually filled with jargon, cliches, and almost religious rites/steps to salvation/success. At their core, they also usually contain a couple good ideas that might not have required a whole book. The War of Art's good idea can be summarized by Nike's slogan: Just Do It. Or perhaps, my dad's slogan: Get off your ass and do your damn job. This book is basically Pressfield giving the reader ideas about how to overcome creative roadblocks. He describes why there ARE roadblocks, gets a bit philosophical about the nature of roadblocks for creativity, etc., and then give the reader his strategy. Basically, Pressfield says you gotta do the hard stuff. You gotta work. Ignore distractions and do what it is you want to do, that you dream of doing, NOW. That's it really.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brent Weeks

    It's more than worth the price of admission for anyone in a creative field. Clear, inspiring, and short. (Also, inexpensive, which seems remarkably fair in this era.) Yes, roughly half of the book is a little... ethereal, perhaps. More Pressfield's life philosophy and spirituality than anything, and not helpful to me. But I'm not going to knock a star off it for that. I've read too many business books that are 15 pages of gold surrounded by 200 pages of fluff to get angry when an author legitimat It's more than worth the price of admission for anyone in a creative field. Clear, inspiring, and short. (Also, inexpensive, which seems remarkably fair in this era.) Yes, roughly half of the book is a little... ethereal, perhaps. More Pressfield's life philosophy and spirituality than anything, and not helpful to me. But I'm not going to knock a star off it for that. I've read too many business books that are 15 pages of gold surrounded by 200 pages of fluff to get angry when an author legitimately gives a work his all--and gives 50 pages of gold and 50 pages of Not For Me, Thanks. Where it's good, it's great. I highlighted many, many passages. It left me hungry to go do more work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    How creative of a person are you? "They" say the more creative you are, the more sensitive you are. Which can mean that you don't want to get out of you bed some days, or that you have the ability to procrastinate greatly, or that you want to destroy every piece of work that you have ever created because it's crap and you'll never be as crazy as Vincent van Gogh or as cool as Michaelangelo. Well, this book gives you tools to help you overcome all your short comings and own up to your potential as How creative of a person are you? "They" say the more creative you are, the more sensitive you are. Which can mean that you don't want to get out of you bed some days, or that you have the ability to procrastinate greatly, or that you want to destroy every piece of work that you have ever created because it's crap and you'll never be as crazy as Vincent van Gogh or as cool as Michaelangelo. Well, this book gives you tools to help you overcome all your short comings and own up to your potential as a creative member of society. Also, nobody wants to get out of bed in the morning, it's so comfortable and cozy in there. Let me know when we put a hybrid engine in a bed, I'll drive that to work.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is essentially an extended pep talk/motivational speech meant to pump the reader up into doing what they’re putting off doing, be it going for a new job, starting a new diet or whatever, though ostensibly it’s aimed at wannabe writers. And it’s a bit too generic for my blood. I’ve read a few books like this – off the top of my dome, Stephen King’s On Writing, Benjamin Percy’s Thrill Me and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – all of which did it Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is essentially an extended pep talk/motivational speech meant to pump the reader up into doing what they’re putting off doing, be it going for a new job, starting a new diet or whatever, though ostensibly it’s aimed at wannabe writers. And it’s a bit too generic for my blood. I’ve read a few books like this – off the top of my dome, Stephen King’s On Writing, Benjamin Percy’s Thrill Me and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – all of which did it better than Pressfield. This slim volume is made up of three sections. The first identifies Resistance (basically his all-encompassing label for procrastination/fear/laziness) and was overly long for describing such a simple concept; the second tells you how to tackle Resistance (answer: the Nike slogan – Just Do It!); and the third is full of woowoo with Pressfield going off the deep end, waffling on about angels(!) and divine destiny. The book is fairly well written and I agree with most of what Pressfield has to say about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to progress, knuckling down and getting on with it, creating a routine, being patient, fighting apathy, not listening to any negativity in your head, etc. I wouldn’t say it was useful for anyone looking for practical advice on overcoming procrastination or writing though as Pressfield tends to generalise most of what he says, which is fluff about beating doubt and being the hero of your own story. And the repetitive and tedious nature of the content makes for a very uninteresting read. The advice is banal self-help stuff that’s been said a million times before and Pressfield’s personal anecdotes were uninspiring and dull. I love the Joe Rogan Experience podcast but I have no idea what Joe sees in this one. And that’s what I’d recommend for inspiration/motivation instead of this book: Joe’s podcast, particularly the episodes with Jocko Willink and Jordan Peterson.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Makeba

    Hello, my name is Makeba and it has been 22 days since I've thought about writing and decided to do something else instead. I write everyday, and this book helped me do it. "The War of Art" made me feel bad about my relationship with the creative process. She would invite me out and I'd decide to wash my hair instead. He would call and I'd push the button that sent it straight to voicemail. I was a lousy friend. Illuminating what Pressfield defines as resistance and turning pro turned the tables Hello, my name is Makeba and it has been 22 days since I've thought about writing and decided to do something else instead. I write everyday, and this book helped me do it. "The War of Art" made me feel bad about my relationship with the creative process. She would invite me out and I'd decide to wash my hair instead. He would call and I'd push the button that sent it straight to voicemail. I was a lousy friend. Illuminating what Pressfield defines as resistance and turning pro turned the tables on myself and forced me to take a hard look at my habits and decide if I was hungry enough to change them. I'm on day three of beans and rice; I'm hungry. I started the book identifying with the person who wrote the forward-- a fellow procrastinator capable of banging out a decent product-- and finished it seeking ways to exhibit the same qualities Steven has-- discipline, integrity, and patience. Highly Recommended!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Scott

    As some of you may have noticed, there's a book called The Midnight Disease listed as something I'm currently reading. I don't remember when I added it anymore, but I know it was a while ago. There was a period of time this summer where I simply could not write *at all.* I tried everything--I tried to read book about writers block like The Midnight Disease. Nothing in them helped me. I went to different places to try and write. Nothing. I made myself sit down with only my AlphaSmart and refused t As some of you may have noticed, there's a book called The Midnight Disease listed as something I'm currently reading. I don't remember when I added it anymore, but I know it was a while ago. There was a period of time this summer where I simply could not write *at all.* I tried everything--I tried to read book about writers block like The Midnight Disease. Nothing in them helped me. I went to different places to try and write. Nothing. I made myself sit down with only my AlphaSmart and refused to get up for three hours or until I'd at least written something. The hours would pass, and I would write nothing. And then I'd cry. I was slowly but surely becoming convinced I'd never write again, and it broke my heart. (All of me felt broken, actually) And then I saw this book in my local bookstore and took a look at it. And what I read blew me away. Pressfield doesn't talk about specifically about writer's block but about Resistance, and the thing he said that made me buy the book, take it home and read the first two sections over and over again (the third one is about muses and things and I'm not into that) was this: "Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it by our very fear of it." All those things I'd done to try and make myself write and I'd never once stopped to think about WHY I wasn't writing. But Pressfield got me to do that, and he got me to realize that it was my fears that were stopping me, and that writing can't be about overcoming everything that's got you trapped in a corner or scared. It has to--and must be--simply about the writing. It's not easy to overcome those fears, and I keep a copy of The War of Art next to what I'm currently working on, and turn to it when I need a reminder that it's okay to be afraid, and that the important thing is to keep going.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joe Barlow

    What a piece of garbage! The author of this new-ageish book repeatedly states opinion as fact, and proves himself to be a misguided and judgmental buffoon. Some of the things I "learned" while reading this meritless piece of tripe: 1. Attention Deficit Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder aren't "real"--they are merely excuses that we give ourselves because we don't truly want to succeed; 2. The reason Hitler killed millions of Jews is because he didn't have a creative outlet, and he should have What a piece of garbage! The author of this new-ageish book repeatedly states opinion as fact, and proves himself to be a misguided and judgmental buffoon. Some of the things I "learned" while reading this meritless piece of tripe: 1. Attention Deficit Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder aren't "real"--they are merely excuses that we give ourselves because we don't truly want to succeed; 2. The reason Hitler killed millions of Jews is because he didn't have a creative outlet, and he should have painted more; 3. Since creativity requires a healthy body as well as a healthy mind, overweight people cannot truly be creative. I am happy to report that this is false. Since finishing this awful (but mercifully brief) book, I have already thought of several dozen ways the author can go f**k himself. Sounds like THIS fat man's creativity is working just fine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Onaiza Khan

    I do not read self-help books but this book I know I’m going to read every year from now on. It is like a pocket map to find your inner Muse. It starts from a very basic level. Kind of like the layman level and drives you swiftly but efficiently to the level of an artist. It’s like a smooth ride in an elevator. Effortlessly leading you to your destination.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Madeline

    What a mess. This book is ridiculous. This book is angry. This book is upset that it had to be written because the author made himself think that he had to stay in a chair everyday writing regardless of however else he may have felt at the moment. This book is an awesome example of someone who apparently believes in the explicit value of free speech but denounces free will. I finished it a few days ago and have since been seriously trying to understand how it was published. FIrst of all, it's not What a mess. This book is ridiculous. This book is angry. This book is upset that it had to be written because the author made himself think that he had to stay in a chair everyday writing regardless of however else he may have felt at the moment. This book is an awesome example of someone who apparently believes in the explicit value of free speech but denounces free will. I finished it a few days ago and have since been seriously trying to understand how it was published. FIrst of all, it's not a book. It's an assortment of thoughts that seem to have spewed out of the authors mind in a frenzy. Probably due to some crazy circumstance that was way more interesting than anything written on the pages of the book itself. Was there an editor? Or even someone doing page layout? Or a fact checker? Was it self published? What's up with the one sentences taking up parts of entire pages as if it they are such epic thoughts that they deserve such suspension? I thought this book was going to provide practical advice on how to achieve a higher state of discipline. It doesn't. It does though attempt to bully you into fulfilling your 'purpose' as a creative being. According to the author we all have a purpose to fulfill and if we ignore it he will yell at us, like he does on the last page. That page is awesome. I wonder if this person is aware that some people actually do not have purposes, they were born and there is not one thing in the world that interests them, and it is not due to procrastination or resistance. I wonder what he thinks of such people who achieve nothing, nor care to and remain healthy their entire lives. I wonder what he thinks of teenagers who have never procrastinated a day in their lives and are diagnosed with cancer or mental disorders nonetheless. I wonder if he realizes that if someone is in tune with themselves that resistance and fear are on their side.

  19. 3 out of 5

    Suzanne

    In a word: obnoxious. I've suffered through 57 pages of being told I should resist resistance. Skipping ahead to page 68, I see a chapter on the value of being miserable. No. Just no. I'm done here.

  20. 3 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Pressfield is a former Marine, the author of a novel on the Greco-Persian Wars and a fan of the Bhagavad Gita, so probably someone who's become an expert in getting one's shit together in the face of adversity. "The War of Art" is precisely about how to muster strength and determination in any creative enterprise against our inner adversary, which he calls Resistance (name it procrastination or self-sabotage or writer's block if you prefer). The books is divided into three sections: 1) a definiti Pressfield is a former Marine, the author of a novel on the Greco-Persian Wars and a fan of the Bhagavad Gita, so probably someone who's become an expert in getting one's shit together in the face of adversity. "The War of Art" is precisely about how to muster strength and determination in any creative enterprise against our inner adversary, which he calls Resistance (name it procrastination or self-sabotage or writer's block if you prefer). The books is divided into three sections: 1) a definition of what Resistance really is and how it manifests itself, 2) guidelines on how to fight Resistance and stop bullshitting oneself, 3) a somewhat romantic (jungian / nietzschean) development on inspiration, enthusiasm (in the etymological sense), connecting to the Self and becoming what we are. I have picked up this book from the shelf in order to get a boost for a writing project I'm working on (and because it was prefaced by Robert McKee!). Two sentences particularly remain on top of my mind: "If I were diagnosed with terminal cancer, would I keep doing what I do?" and "If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?" These are a couple of the kicks in the ass I got while reading this book. I need to begin now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    This book is fierce. I picked it up late one night while fighting the flu and the next morning, I was like an efficient machine. I felt extremely motivated to continue my efforts on a few projects that had been languishing on the back burner. The author shines a very bright light on that cunning, rational voice we all have that convinces us to wait, procrastinate or never start a new venture. He calls it resistance and expounds that the greater resistance you have to something, the more importan This book is fierce. I picked it up late one night while fighting the flu and the next morning, I was like an efficient machine. I felt extremely motivated to continue my efforts on a few projects that had been languishing on the back burner. The author shines a very bright light on that cunning, rational voice we all have that convinces us to wait, procrastinate or never start a new venture. He calls it resistance and expounds that the greater resistance you have to something, the more important it must be. Written in concise chunks, some only a page or paragraph long, I was compelled to keep reading. The author's voice is refreshing and the ideas clear and relevant. Even though I didn’t agree %100 with a few of his statements, The War of Art definitely set me into high gear. That defeatist little voice better watch out!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    I wasn't really sure what to expect when I read this quick read of a book. On the one hand, I appreciated the brevity and the candor, and on the other, the self-righteous overtones were alienating and borderline dictatorial. I don't underestimate the work ethic and writing talent of Mr. Pressfield; however, if you are looking for practical approaches to consistently battling your bouts of procrastination and creative blocks without sacrificing the relationships that matter most in life (aka real I wasn't really sure what to expect when I read this quick read of a book. On the one hand, I appreciated the brevity and the candor, and on the other, the self-righteous overtones were alienating and borderline dictatorial. I don't underestimate the work ethic and writing talent of Mr. Pressfield; however, if you are looking for practical approaches to consistently battling your bouts of procrastination and creative blocks without sacrificing the relationships that matter most in life (aka real friends and family), look elsewhere. What makes this book borderline off-putting is that the three contemporary male figures noted for their "acts of commitment," and are referenced more than once throughout, are all men that have failed their families and the public: Lance Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tiger Woods. In addition, it is darn near impossible to find anything from Mr. Pressfield regarding his commitment to his family, (uncertain that he has one?), and overwhelmingly easy to find his thoughts on his commitment to being an artist, thriving as an artist, and loving an artist. It is a bit tough to swallow the words of an artist when the word commitment only applies when it is to serve your advantage.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Henry

    Two positive stars. It was okay. Maybe I've read too many books about writing. This is one of those paragraph-a-page books with quips about writing and overcoming what stands between you and getting it done. But I didn't find those pages all that inspiring or motivating and I kept wishing for funny photographs above each paragraph to help me turn the pages. It's one of those books that would benefit from polar bears and grasshoppers sitting at typewriters or somehow illustrating the text in a hu Two positive stars. It was okay. Maybe I've read too many books about writing. This is one of those paragraph-a-page books with quips about writing and overcoming what stands between you and getting it done. But I didn't find those pages all that inspiring or motivating and I kept wishing for funny photographs above each paragraph to help me turn the pages. It's one of those books that would benefit from polar bears and grasshoppers sitting at typewriters or somehow illustrating the text in a humorous way. Not a bad book, but maybe just not for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! This is a must-read by any one interested in doing ANYTHING other than the average with their life. He focuses a lot on writing, but it clearly applies to anything you are called to do in your life, but seem unable to get yourself to do it. I have been working on-and-off on my 1st book for 5 years. I have had so much resistance to sitting down and writing, even though I love writing my blog pieces. Within pages, Pressfield clearly spell out the trouble, and just by recognizin FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! This is a must-read by any one interested in doing ANYTHING other than the average with their life. He focuses a lot on writing, but it clearly applies to anything you are called to do in your life, but seem unable to get yourself to do it. I have been working on-and-off on my 1st book for 5 years. I have had so much resistance to sitting down and writing, even though I love writing my blog pieces. Within pages, Pressfield clearly spell out the trouble, and just by recognizing it I was able to sit down and write EVERY DAY WITH ENTHUSIASM. He begins by talking about Resistance, what it is, it's many forms, and why it functions in our lives. Sometimes recognizing the problem is all you need to do to move beyond it. He continues with what it means to be a Professional (akin to a Warrior) and how to combat Resistance. It's as if my entire relationship with writing has been flipped on its head. I knew many of these things peripherally, I suppose, but I needed to see them in words in front of my face to make the difference. It's a fun read, and approachable by people of all beliefs and walks of life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    The first 2/3 of this book were exactly the inspiration, direction, correction, and kick in the butt every person doing creative work needs. The last 1/3 was much of the same but phrased as abject nonsense. It’s short and moves fast and is well worth reading.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Karen Locklear

    “Don’t the best of them bleed it out/ While the rest of them peter out?” – Foo Fighters “My Hero” A while back I was watching a documentary about the grunge band Nirvana. Towards the end of the film, a music journalist was comparing Kurt Cobain to Dave Grohl and said, “If Kurt Cobain is the artist, Dave Grohl is the craftsman.” This kept coming to mind when reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Cobain was the tormented artist, who couldn’t handle the stresses of his own success. Grohl st “Don’t the best of them bleed it out/ While the rest of them peter out?” – Foo Fighters “My Hero” A while back I was watching a documentary about the grunge band Nirvana. Towards the end of the film, a music journalist was comparing Kurt Cobain to Dave Grohl and said, “If Kurt Cobain is the artist, Dave Grohl is the craftsman.” This kept coming to mind when reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Cobain was the tormented artist, who couldn’t handle the stresses of his own success. Grohl stuck it out and has been part of two highly successful bands and contributes to several others, regardless of commercial response. In this book Pressfield is hard on the artist. He points out art in and of itself doesn’t just happen “when the mood strikes”. Art requires dedication. It requires discipline. It requires detachment not only from the art itself, but also from how the world sees the product. It requires knowing art cannot be measured by anything tangible. In theory, this book is about the creative process. But really it's about anything which requires commitment and perseverance. Our ego wants it easy. In reality nothing worth doing is . . . Some of the reviews use the word “bully” to describe Pressfield’s point of view. I disagree, and I believe Pressfield is correct in his attitude regarding success at any endeavor in that professionals are dedicated, hence the term “professional”. No one in this world gets a free ride for very long. I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s a book about dreaming big. It’s about knowing the saying “when God closes a door he opens a window” is kinda lame. If a door is closed, it’s just closed. Turn the freakin’ knob! Or decide whatever is on the other side of it isn’t worth the energy. Regardless, make a decision and live it with no regrets.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ZeN

    S.P. flirts enough with valid conclusions. However I felt that the reasons behind the beliefs are ego driven, derisive and flippant. He makes unsubstantiated analogies and in many portions contradicts himself. He engages in belligerent novice bashing. He vehemently repeatedly reminds us that hes a 'pro' and leaves us with little material useful for practical application. Its not an accessible book since the entire narration sounds like hes pissed off and in turn taking it out on the reader. As h S.P. flirts enough with valid conclusions. However I felt that the reasons behind the beliefs are ego driven, derisive and flippant. He makes unsubstantiated analogies and in many portions contradicts himself. He engages in belligerent novice bashing. He vehemently repeatedly reminds us that hes a 'pro' and leaves us with little material useful for practical application. Its not an accessible book since the entire narration sounds like hes pissed off and in turn taking it out on the reader. As he mentioned in the book he had years of failure and writers block. Due to that, hes written a manifesto on the tribulations of not getting over it in a timely manner. I felt the angst and passion. Yet I also felt that those feelings took away from his writing original well structured ideas and notions on the overall subject of writing. In the first portion of the book he says you should write in a rote way and not consider what your doing as art. That its work like any other job, lacking loftiness. Then in the second half he says that not only is writing art but thats its something godly and divine.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Signe

    this book is basically a self-help book about confronting procrastination. pressfield begins by distinguising the behavior of an amateur from a professional artist. he believes that to be human is to be an artist and that we procrastinate because we're afraid of achieving our full potential because to do so is very hard and requires much failure. also, he references tiger woods and arnold schwarzenegger a lot. much of what he says feels truthful; however i immediately become suspicious of a book this book is basically a self-help book about confronting procrastination. pressfield begins by distinguising the behavior of an amateur from a professional artist. he believes that to be human is to be an artist and that we procrastinate because we're afraid of achieving our full potential because to do so is very hard and requires much failure. also, he references tiger woods and arnold schwarzenegger a lot. much of what he says feels truthful; however i immediately become suspicious of a book when i find myself nodding internally. he didn't really say anything new to me, but it was nice to re-think some of those thoughts in a more organized way. also, i felt less nervous after reading this book.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Daniel Clausen

    This book is first and foremost a treatise on writing as labor. Writing is work -- much like going to the gym, fighting a battle, or plowing a field. That is the philosophy of the book -- one I tend to agree with. Haruki Murakami talked in much similar terms about writing in his book about running. He wrote a book about running and the discipline of running; but he was also talking about the virtues necessary to be a writer. Much of the book talks about the forces of "Resistance." Think about re This book is first and foremost a treatise on writing as labor. Writing is work -- much like going to the gym, fighting a battle, or plowing a field. That is the philosophy of the book -- one I tend to agree with. Haruki Murakami talked in much similar terms about writing in his book about running. He wrote a book about running and the discipline of running; but he was also talking about the virtues necessary to be a writer. Much of the book talks about the forces of "Resistance." Think about resistance as the accumulated forces trying to get you not to write, not to finish, to say you're a writer but to really live life as a fraud. It also tells a story -- over a course of vignettes -- about how one writer deals with his personal form of resistance. The book is about motivation and professionalism. There are parts about other things, but mostly the book is about those things. You may also like the chapters about muses. Most of the passages are written in 1-2 page vignettes. Thus, perhaps the best way to read this book is in five to ten minute sessions before you're about to write. This book is unrateable. It’s clear the author’s audience is himself. You may rebuke, “When is writing not?” But honestly, this time it really is for himself. It is very personally written. (I've written something very similar for myself, and it reads similarly). Thus, much of it will not connect with you. When it does, though, it will likely connect deeply. Does that make it a two-star, three-star, four-star...it doesn't matter. If you need this book. Read this book. I didn't need to read this book, but I still benefited from it. If you really don't need this book because you never face resistance when you write, then you don't need this book at all. Here is the strange thing, one section in particular – Resistance and Fundamentalism -- just blew me away. I’m also an International Relations scholar and it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything on Fundamentalism that rang so clear and beautiful as that. If I could take those two or three pages and make them required reading for every IR scholar, I would. Thank you, Mr. Pressfield. Well done.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    This book was annoying, but I liked it OK. I thought it was funny that most of the people the author held up as paragons of success are borderline psychopaths who have cheated and lied their way to the top (Lance Armstrong) or have cheated and lied their way through their personal lives (Arnold Swarzenegger and Tiger Woods). The author contradicts himself, too: In the chapter "For the Love of the Game" he says, "Playing for money, or adopting the attitude of one who plays for money, lowers the fev This book was annoying, but I liked it OK. I thought it was funny that most of the people the author held up as paragons of success are borderline psychopaths who have cheated and lied their way to the top (Lance Armstrong) or have cheated and lied their way through their personal lives (Arnold Swarzenegger and Tiger Woods). The author contradicts himself, too: In the chapter "For the Love of the Game" he says, "Playing for money, or adopting the attitude of one who plays for money, lowers the fever," which is a good thing, according to him. Sounds like the definition of a hack to me, right? Using your talent to complete an assignment that you don't want in order to get paid? But then later in the book he says not to be a hack, that using your talent with the aim of making money will kill "the muse." Even though he has clearly done it himself, throughout his career as a writer, in order to make money and get where he is today. The book itself has a hackish feel to it. One of its redeeming qualities is that it's a fast read--I finished it in a couple of hours (I'm a slow reader). And I liked when he talked about dreams he's had and their meaning and the difference between hierarchical thinking and territorial thinking. All the "fighting resistance" cheer-leading was good, too, in its way. But I never would have read this book if a friend hadn't given me a copy. If I'd leafed through it in a bookstore, I wouldn't have bought it, because it's too cliched and dogmatic for my tastes. And unintentionally funny, the way a know-it-all blowhard is. P.S. And he actually says people have been cured from cancer because, after they got their diagnosis, they started doing what they loved. Yes, I'm sure the chemotherapy and radiation and surgery had nothing to do with their cure. It was all because they started fighting resistance and doing what they loved. He should contact all the medical research centers and tell them of his startling cure for cancer! Shut down all the cancer hospitals, because once people find out they just have to start doing what they love instead of undergoing yucky chemotherapy, hospitals will be obsolete!

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