Book Review: The War Of Art By Steven Pressfield

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Book Review: The War Of Art By Steven Pressfield

At Smart E Labs, we help people from all walks of life. But we have a particular soft spot for creatives as that’s where Stella and myself began our entrepreneurial journey.
While a lot of creatives have great talent in their given discipline, they are usually lost when it comes to the business side. That’s something we’re more than able to both understand and assist with.

But what happens when the creative stop being creative?
What happens when the page remains empty?
The canvas stays blank?

There are seemingly a million different reasons as to why a creative can no longer create. But in The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield, he proposes that it’s only a force called “Resistance”. This prevents the painter from painting, the writer from writing and the performer from taking the final curtain call.

It is that “Resistance” (a.k.a. obstacles to success) that takes the million different forms by which creatives cannot fully realize their potential.

While Pressfield may be better known in literary circles for his fictional offerings such as “Gates of Fire” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, Pressfield has come-of-age amongst the self-actualized Neo-Stoic elite with his more candid non-fiction offerings like “Do the Work” and of course “The War of Art”.

Within these non-fiction titles, Pressfield casts a mould of how the professional creative should carry out their work in the face of “Resistance”. Embossed on this mould is Pressfield’s unapologetic, take-no-prisoners approach to the artist’s life.

Cold, biting and accurate, this title is not for the faint of heart. (Just for scale, Pressfield’s latest book titled, “Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t”, should give you a taste of how this book is written).

Pressfield not only talks the talk, because he has also walked the walk. The War Of Art details his life of a struggling writer, the full cycle of creativity and disillusionment with the industry he, for so many years, felt was the only reason stay the course. All the way through to being able to see the forest for the trees and write a book like the War of Art to assist other struggling creatives.

It would be easy to dismiss Pressfield as a bitter curmudgeon of a writer. Disenchanted with his own life and successes and the starry-eyed enthusiasm of the up-and-comers.
But it’s important to know that he paints a harsh landscape of the artist’s reality as he simply expects more from creatives.

He abhors laziness and frauds and only will consider those true to the creative path worthy of his prose.
Strangely enough, in a very “Build it and they will come” pastiche, it’s the creatives to which Pressfield sincerely speaks to in which this book truly resonates.

The poseurs and wannabes will submit under the relentless barrage of Pressfield’s demands as a professional creative. Thus leaving only those who truly understand their craft to remain, invigorated and primed to flourish.
The War of Art is an effortless joy to read. The book takes you through a linear progression of overcoming Resistance and realizing your full creative potential. Starting with Resistance and how it can unhinge a creative. Then to combating resistance to becoming a professional creative. Finishing with achieving a higher realm after overcoming resistance, each page is it’s own chapter on Resistance, its many forms and how to identify and overcome them.

Although trying to describe this book is challenging, I’ll share with you the passage I show my creative friends about what “Resistance” is.
Those that truly understand click and ask to borrow my copy.
Those that don’t glaze over and say “Ah, yeah… That’s true huh?”

Pressfield does get into some more spiritual, religious and higher concept ideals with the content and how it pertains to “Resistance”.
For me, I didn’t really identify with these particular chapters. But the good news is you can freely skip of these and still gain an immense amount from this title.

Final Thoughts

The War Of Art is a short read at only 165 pages, but will be something you’ll pull out and leaf through every time you need a creative kick in the pants or just a brilliantly executed reality check.

This is the ultimate tow-the-line for any creative looking to be professional in their craft. If you tell people you’re a creative more often than you’re creating, this book will chew you up and spit you out. Stay away!

If you ever need help in the creation process or achieving any goal to success (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?!) then head over to our friends at Social Book Co (Affiliate Link). They take the leg work out of comparing prices from hundreds of different online retailers. They’ll then locate the book at the least expensive price for your location.
Aren’t they nice?

Should you buy this book?

If you’ve put off improving your life time and time again – Yes.
If you’re a creative – Yes yes.
If you’re a creative who can no longer create – Three times Yes.

14 years old and still able wake the muse within every true creative, The War Of Art gets the score it deserves.

Cam’s Review Score


Essential reading. Grab your copy now.

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