Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

As a human being, I constantly struggle with procrastination, self-doubt, and any forms of laziness, especially when it comes to writing. If I hit the dreaded writer’s block, I immediately begin to feel the stress of being stuck without knowing what to say or how to say something.

Now, I tend to avoid self-help books (or books of this sort) simply because I like to believe that I can find the solutions on my own or through my friends and family. I guess I have not completely washed away my egotistical teenage persona – or I’m just stubborn. This was how I felt until a friend of mine recommended Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

Pressfield’s book is designed to help those who are stuck in self-dug holes – like the ones I seem to fall into – that prevent them from doing what they have been destined to do in this lifetime. Divided into three parts, Pressfield identifies the issue, provides how to overcome it, and explains what our creative lives will be like once we conquer it. Part one, “Defining the Enemy,” presents the issue as Resistance. Resistance is everything that may hold you back from doing what you’re meant to do. Part two, “Combating Resistance: turning pro,” explains how we can move towards taking our calling seriously by understanding how Resistance can trick our minds. Finally, part three, “Beyond Resistance: the higher realm,” suggest where our inspiration and creativity come from, as well as how we can maximize our time to succeed in our callings. However, the format of the book is not like a typical novel with chapters; it is arranged with a variety of mini topics spanning from one paragraph to a couple of pages, allowing for easy reference later on.

While reading the book, I was surprised to find myself relating to almost everything he said. It felt like an intense pep talk. Here was this horrible thing called Resistance and I had fallen into all of its traps. It wasn’t that I had never heard of such ideas as Resistance, but it was Pressfield’s way of placing the issue directly in my face that made me realize the impact it was having on my life. Yet, while he was straightforward (in some sense) about what he had learned throughout his life as a writer, he was also funny, creative, and inspiring in the ways he spoke about everything.

If Pressfield had written this book without the humor or creative references, and if he had left out his personal experiences, this book would be scary and/or boring to read. But I never felt as though I was reading a self-help book. Although I did not agree on some of the things he mentioned about where our creativity comes from or how to avoid Resistance (simply because not everything can be personally applied), there was still so much I could take away from what he shared.

After I finished, I immediately told a few of my friends to take a look at the book. I knew that, if the book helped me, it would definitely help others who struggle with the same problems. Of course, flames set off by realizations or epiphanies tend to die off eventually, but I am hoping to keep the flame burning for as long as possible. When I may start to feel like I am giving in, I will reread sections to keep me going. It is a pep talk for those who really need it – and I needed it. It reminded me that, if you want to do something, don’t find excuses to stop from doing what you want to do. The more Resistance you feel, the more important it is for you to do it. So do it!

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