Book Review, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Weekend Writer, Writing

Weekend Writer: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Hey all, Dani here.

A new year means a new focus on certain blog series that I let slide a bit at the end of the year, and a new focus on my own writing. I really loved doing my Weekend Writer posts last year, even though they took a lot of time and were quite a bit of work. I found them to be some of the best posts that I’ve written, and so letting those fall by the wayside in November was sad for me. But I think I needed the break then. Now I look at the pile of books on the writing craft and I feel like I’m maybe in a better position to tackle them.

It would be really cool for all of us who want to write creatively (whether that is poetry, stories, novellas, novels, screenplays, RPGs, video games, whatever) to be able to help uplift and inspire each other, and keep ourselves motivated to strive for our dreams, so I decided to start this blog series here. This series will be a lot of me working through books on writing and creativity, maybe doing and sharing some writing exercises, and possibly doing some writing based discussion posts. It’s going to be an adventure for sure, and I hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.

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

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Pages: 190

Publisher: Black Irish Entertainment LLC

Publication Date: January 11th 2012 (original edition published 2002)

ISBN: 1936891026 (ISBN13: 9781936891023)

Summary

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor-be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.

Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

My Thoughts

Wow, so okay, I was going to go over this book over the next three weeks, talking about a different section or “Book” within this book individually, but I can’t do that to myself or to you guys. I…did not like this book, to be frank. I struggle with resistance and writer’s block; it has been a major issue of mine pretty much since I finished college. So the premise of this book seemed great, and each of the chapters was mostly a page or less, which made this seem like it would be an easily digestible read.

However, I did not find the writing itself to be all that good, and some of Steven Pressfield’s viewpoints seem a bit outlandish and extreme (at least in my opinion).

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Take this chapter on “Resistance and Self-Medication.” Okay yes, I can buy that stuff like medication can be sold more via ad writers than doctors, but suggesting that ADD isn’t a disease but a marketing ploy doesn’t work for me. Fine, yes, the first edition of this book was put out in 2002, and I’m guessing it hasn’t really been updated much since then, but still.

In the introduction section of this book, the author says:

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever seen one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

I was really trying to take notes on the multitude of short chapters in this book, parsing out information about the characteristics of Resistance and the symptoms. I thought I could still put together an informative post.

Because yes, some of the facts can be helpful. Resistance is the enemy within. Resistance is a force of nature and therefore doesn’t discriminate. Resistance is universal and everyone deals with it.

Yes, resistance does manifest most commonly with procrastination, which can become a habit. Resistance can manifest with alternate hobbies, though the author suggests that these are sex, drugs, shopping, and alcohol. I can totally agree with the statement that TV, gossip, and the consumption of all products containing fat, sugar, salt, or chocolate is resistance procrastination. Guilty as charged.

Pressfield also suggests that Resistance plays itself off as all different sorts of trouble, such as ill health, alcoholism, drug addiction, and more–that more includes jealousy and chronic lateness, which okay, I can agree with those.

So to me it just felt like this was a bit ridiculously extreme. I want to be able to say that I powered through this short 190 page book anyway, but at page 30 I was ready to just give the book up and move on to something that would be more helpful to me.

What a way to start 2020, with my first DNF book.

But hey guys, writer’s block and writer’s resistance is a real thing, and we can find a way to work through this issue. We just need to sit down at our desks with pen and paper, or sit down at our computers, and just write, or draw, or compose, or whatever creative outlet will feed your soul. And we need to support and encourage each other. I don’t allow myself to be jealous (for longer than a couple minutes, honestly) of another person’s success. Yes, I wish I could be that successful too, but overall I’m just happy that they are succeeding on their journey. Creative pursuits do not need to be a competition.

So now that I’ve written over a thousand words for this Weekend Writer post, I’m going to go sit down and write at least a thousand words on my novel. Have a wonderful Sunday, and I’ll see you with a new book for Weekend Writer next time.

Links to Other Weekend Writer Posts

Introduction — Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer — Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day — The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell — No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty — The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Where to Get a Copy

If you found this writing advice helpful, you can pick up your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

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