Review: The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield

Review: The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield piqued my interest because of its inclusion on many influential people’s must read lists. It’s not the typical book about business or optimization that I typically review on here, but it does deal with craft and productivity.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I like reading about the daily routines of writers and discovering the disciplined approaches they use. The best writers tend to be prolific writers, and to be prolific you need output. The more you write, the more you add to your body of work, that iterates into itself, and eventually you improve upon your craft. To accomplish this you need to be diligent at your work and overcome obstacles. I think what obstructs many would-be-creatives, or even leaders for that matter, is that they expect to lead and be led by inspiration. When this doesn’t come easily they become discouraged and ineffective, losing their ability inspire and encourage others. Pressfield’s book attempts to describe the internal forces conspiring against us and offer inspiration to overcoming it.

I think what gives this book credibility is that the author, Steven Pressfield, has actually attained commercial success. He is known for writing “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, but his bio is also full of flops, rejections, and years of frustration. I appreciate wisdom from the hard earned because it’s more authentic and practical. Not all of us are naturally talented, but we can create a path forward by refusing to get discouraged and utilize directed effort. Identifying the blocks between ourselves and goals, which can be either mental or emotional, is key as well.

The books tackles a force that Pressfield calls “resistance.” It is something real and something that can be overcome. It is purely internal, from within ourselves, arising when there’s more gratifying short term alternatives. It is a battle that must be fought everyday on terms that might not be in your favor. For example, he brings up that many artists try to heal themselves before they think they can begin creating. Pressfield asserts that this is a false path to follow, and that creating at this time is more important than ever because the part we hurt from isn’t the part we create from anyway.

So does inspiration play a role in Pressfield’s book? Of course, and he recommends mastering technique so when it does come you can harness it to the fullest. You do this by sitting down every day and trying. Because “in the end the question can only be answered by action” as he writes.

Folding in what I learned from this book encouraged me to rethink how I go about my daily life. I’m always on the lookout for ways to be more productive and I’m utilizing his advice to change the way I approach writing. For example, I try to post once a week, but sometimes I go through spells. There are times when I can write four or five posts in a day and times I can’t even open up my laptop. I now try to write every Sunday regardless if I want to or not. This way, when I feel a rush to start hammering on the keyboard I can outline the bodies of future posts that I may not write for several weeks. Conversely, when I don’t feel like writing I can flesh out the remainder of the post and work through the editing.

One final takeaway to mention is that I am working on my craft as a writer by trying to develop a better style. I would like to free myself from using the passive voice. It’s just a bad habit. If I find myself writing “has been” I will restructure the sentence using the active voice. This is also something I picked up from “The Elements of Style” from William Strunk but failed to utilize until now.

If you’re interested in any of past reviews, click HERE.

 

 

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