As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

March 8, 2011

THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield, 2003

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative BattlesSteven Pressfield enjoys great international success as a bestselling novelist. But in order to reach the top he had to do a lot of work to fight the inner demons that told him he couldn’t make it. THE WAR OF ART is his challenge to creative block, and his succinct, straight-from-the-hip style will help every reader unleash their personal ambitions, be they literary, artistic, or business-minded. . . . Finally, Sun Tzu for the soul! Inspirational, funny, and a great kick in the pants, THE WAR OF ART is the perfect book for anybody who had a goal circumvented by life and circumstance: which is to say, you and everybody you’ve ever met. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Annie Haberstock

Have you ever started a new diet, and then ate your heart out?  Or planned to start a blog but end up giving up?  What about wanting to go back to school but decide you wouldn’t be any good at it, even if it’s what you really wanted?  How about wanting to do anything but finding a reason not to do it? Most of us can say ‘yes’ to at least one of these.  The War of Art – Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield address this problem that we all struggle with in one way or another.    Steven Pressfield has a list of writing success behind him including the well know Legend of Baggar Vance,  Gates of Fire, Killing Rommel, and Last of The Amazons.  Pressfield has an ability to take the average reader and transport them to ancient Greece and experience every detail with King Leonidas, or feel the burden of war veteran trying to find his swing.  To have a book written by such a great author while giving insight into his process and the ability to overcome creative blocks excited me and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The book refers to this, not doing what you want to do, as ‘Resistance’.  It is the voice in your head creating self doubt, fear, avoidance, and convincing you that what you want isn’t important or worth trying.   The book is split into three sections and small 1-2 page topics, which allows Pressfield to make several key points quickly without losing your interest.  The first opens a door into the world of resistance showing you where it is in your life.  Pressfield allows us to look at our own lives and determine what our resistance looks like.  For some, it could be the fear of what others will think that holds them back.  For others it’s a mental game, you start thinking of all things that must be done before you do what you actually want to do.  Where ever your resistance is, Pressfield talks about his experience with it in his work and where he has seen it in his life.   Hearing tips about his struggles with problems that we all face in creativity brings the advice to a new level of helpful.  By the end of this section you have a new weight on your shoulders in recognizing how much resistance you have in your life, don’t worry Pressfield doesn’t leave you hanging.

The second section talks about how to overcome the resistance in your life.  Again, using his own experiences Pressfield does a nice job in telling you how to overcome resistance.    He is straight and to the point.  What I took away, and why this book is so effective, is that it doesn’t put the blame on anyone other than you.  He is able to show you that you really do have a choice and you can overcome the resistance.

The third section Pressfield shares his feelings on where the strength to overcome resistance comes from.  He explains where our inspiration comes from and the importance of creating your own rituals to induce your creativity.   Not everyone will agree with these sections to the entirety however I think no matter your beliefs you can still take away some wonderful information.

This book is a perfect way to start your creative journey and I recommend it to anyone wanting to overcome inner battles.

Market: Creative Self-Help
Language: Very Mild
Sensuality: None
Violence: None
Mature Themes: Only frustration with one’s self.

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Steven Pressfield 


Amy Finnegan {} said...

This is a book that I really NEED to read! Thanks so much for the great review!

Anonymous said...

I echo Amy! I need to read this! I've been wanting to read more non-fiction, but I have a hard time justifying that desire, because I really need to read as much fiction as possible (I'm a fiction writer, and I feel like that is my study-time). BUT, if I'm reading something that will help me with my creativity, I can totally justify it! Scary, how my mind works...

Thank you for the great review!

Annie said...

Your welcome! It is definitely worth a quick step outside fiction. Your justification makes perfect sense :)