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The War of Art

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  50,929 Ratings  ·  4,472 Reviews
The Art of War meets "The Artist's Way" in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.
Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published November 11th 2011 by Black Irish Entertainment LLC (first published 2002)
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Mihai non-fiction. It's a book full of advice on how to focus on your (creative) work and get more done.

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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
Natalie
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sundry
Sep 03, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writingbooks
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.
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 ...more
Maggie
May 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kat
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Steve Turtell
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rosie
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
B.A. Wilson
May 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Darwin8u
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“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

description

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
...more
Brent Weeks
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
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
...more
Makeba
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth Scott
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Barlow
Nov 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Onaiza Khan
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
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.
Madeline
Oct 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Suzanne
Sep 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
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.
Lee
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Shana
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rachel
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists and anyone with a calling
Recommended to Rachel 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
Barnabas Piper
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen Locklear
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
 ZeN
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Signe
Jan 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Diana
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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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
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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.” 373 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.” 258 likes
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