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

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  12,974 ratings  ·  1,728 reviews
The Art of War meets "The Artist's Way" in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.
Paperback, 168 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 2002)
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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...more
Newengland
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
Kat
Jun 18, 2009 Kat rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poetry night folks who haven't written a poem in a year
Recommended to Kat by: ChrisGuillebeau.com/3x5
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...more
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...more
Lee
Sep 26, 2013 Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers, artists, entrepreneurs, anyone with a goal or project who needs motivation!
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...more
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...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Leela Vera
Feb 11, 2013 Leela Vera rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists and anyone with a calling
Recommended to Leela Vera by: my aunt - an artist
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...more
Michael Grills
This book is both practical and spiritual in nature.



I really enjoy the first two thirds but I think that the author may lose his most conservative audience to the last third as his spiritual influence has so much imagery attached to it that is counter intuitive to western religion.



Growing up around Christian fundamentalism (which he properly criticizes), I have had to fight the inner battle myself and it takes years to get that nonsense truly out of your head so you can work. I wish that the “W...more
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...more
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...more
Linda Robinson
If my mother was alive, and if she was an artist, she would have written this book. Facing facts bravely about creative process. This is a no nonsense, ground level approach to the work. There is only the work and the doing of it. There is ego, and there is everything else, and if you connect to ego, you'll be missing the everything else. The ego's job is to stop you from doing anything you're born to do: any artistic endeavor that is sent to you from the ether to be completed. Like viruses are...more
Todd Vogts
Dec 13, 2012 Todd Vogts rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joanna
An unusual guide to creativity that discourages navel gazing and instead suggests putting your ass in the chair.

I was initially going to give this book four stars because the esoteric final section in which Pressfield discusses the source of creative inspiration put me off a bit. He discusses the Muses and angels, and I'm always skeptical of anything that involves little pink ponies or pixie dust.

On further reflection, though, I see that Pressfield's theory that great works of art exist as intan...more
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...more
Sandeep
This is a must read. I enjoyed this book and I've referred to it almost every week. For anyone who has creative battles in writing you will identify easily with Steven Pressfield in your face and humorous tone. This book helped me achieve certain writing goals I never seemed to get moving by motivating me to take action and realize the importance of my voice.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to write a novel or screenplay, finish your artistic works, start a charity, start dieting or exercisin...more
Chris Everheart
Ever wonder what's holding you back, holding you down, holding you under? It's "the Resistance" - a force for mediocrity coiled around the human spirit. In THE WAR OF ART Steven Pressfield hunts down the predatory monster that scares us away from our best selves, puts that beast in the crosshairs, and aims for its heart. Now YOU have to pull the trigger.
Written from his vantage point as a novelist/screenwriter, this semi-autobiography is a fascinating and entertaining book of success, expressed...more
Doug Stewart
Much in line with the tone of the book, the book itself is very short. I estimate it can be read in an afternoon, but I can't verify that fact since halfway through reading it I had to put the book down because I couldn't stand not following its advices.

There exists a strange world of creating work you value, fighting the resistant forces that work against you, and remembering you only have so much time and attention before you're dead. Merlin Mann's talks fall into this category, the entire bei...more
Michaeline
If you struggle with procrastination, especially as an artist of any type, this book is for you. Pressfield divides his teachings on and against what he terms "resistance" into three books; the definition, the steps to absolving, and the resolution of resistance. Writers will find this book to be a call to arms in the battle against self-doubt and depression regarding the finished product. A fast read, "The War of Art" is a benefit to anyone lacking the confidence to participate and succeed in h...more
H.
This is the only self-help book I've ever read. It's not the only one due to an opinion thinking there's anything wrong with self-help books. I am sure there are good ones and bad ones, and I definitely need help with all sorts of things. It's just the only one I've found that tackles one of the things wrong with me that I care enough about to want to fix or at least consider. The book is a quick read about creativity and the thousands of little things that we let keep us from actually creating....more
Danielle
I had a hard time rating this. The first part is invaluable for identifying Resistance and giving you a sense of what it is and how it works. The third part has some interesting bits about the Fear of Success and how this thing you're driven to do (but put off, because of Resistance) is part of your "higher self", I guess is how I'd put it.

The middle part, which tells you how to overcome Resistance, is just too...hard edged for my tastes. I agree with what he says--regularity, ditch your ego, qu...more
Mike
This was a 4-start book until near the end, when Pressfield sets up what I consider a false opposition between creating for an audience and being true to yourself. We don't consider J.S. Bach a lesser artist for having produced his works for patrons, do we?

The War of Art was published before the idea of "1000 true fans" gained currency - a group of people who are, in effect, your patrons, who you create your material for and who, in turn, will buy pretty much anything from you. I wonder if Press...more
Julie
I had high hopes for this book, even as I was reading it. He says the reason we procrastinate and never get down to doing what we feel we're meant to be doing or want to be doing is Resistance. He shows the many forms Resistance takes. And says we're at war with it.

And at that point, I'm saying, "Yes, yes. Absolutely right."

But then the next part of the book is supposed to be telling us how to combat Resistance. Isn't it? But it just meanders on about the difference between an Amateur and a Prof...more
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867
I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943 to a Navy father and mother.

I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place a...more
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“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” 215 likes
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” 95 likes
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