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War of Art - Steven Pressfield

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War of Art - Steven Pressfield S Pressfield / Grand Central Publishing

The Bottom Line

To cut a long story short: 'The War of Art' is brilliant. If you are vacillating between amateur and professional, trying to get serious about your art and struggling, this book will give you the kick up the behind that you need. Either you'll lift your game and commit, or you'll settle back into the perfectly respectable 'Weekend Warrior' mode and stop torturing yourself about it.
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  • Pulls no punches: Pressfield tells it like it is
  • Authoritative - written from years of experience
  • Accessible - readable style in bitesized chunks


  • Again, it pulls no punches: sometimes the truth hurts
  • Opinionated - some readers don't like his style


  • ISBN 13 - 978-0446691437 ISBN 10 - 0446691437
  • Grand Central Publishing (April 1, 2003)
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • A concise, readable 'motivational' book for professional creative people
  • Looks at the obstacles to creativity and professionalism and suggests ways to deal with them
  • Written in short, easily digestible chunks, with interesting anecdotes - an enjoyable read.
  • Not a lengthy workbook, rather a concise collection of thoughts. The value lies in the quality, not the quantity.

Guide Review - War of Art - Steven Pressfield

'The War of Art' is aimed at professionals, or would-be professionals. Steven Pressfield has some harsh words for amateurs: "The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps." and " The amateur, underestimating Resistance's cunning, permits the flu to keep him from his chapters; he believes the serpent's voice that says mailing off that manuscript is more important than doing the day's work..."

The author's fiction-writing experience is present in the form as well as the content of this book. He tackles Resistance almost as a character, a personification of everything that hinders creative output, just as the Devil is a personification of all the evils inherent in human nature. Book One, 'Defining the Enemy', is presented as a series of short, pithy statements on aspects of 'Resistance', such as fear, self-doubt, addiction - and looking at its key attributes: invisible, insidious, internal.

Pressfield tackles all the 'biggies'. Some of them won't seem relevant to you, until hours later when your subconscious clicks. Others will strike such a painful nerve that you'll swear the author was bugging your phone. He looks at where inspiration comes from. He takes a traditional view of the origin of the creative urge (as being external to the self) that I don't personally agree with, but which many readers may connect with. Or you might choose to read concepts like 'God' as meaning nature, the universe, or Truth.

The key point to the book is simple, and summed up on page 101: " There's no mystery to turning pro. It's a decision brought about by and act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that."

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