The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

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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 ...

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Overview

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.

Author Biography: Steven Pressfield is the author of international bestsellers The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War, and Last of the Amazons. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The idea behind this book has been festering inside Steven Pressfield for years. The novelist who gave us The Legend of Bagger Vance wanted to write a nonfiction book about defeating the enemy within -- not a political conspiracy but the emotional/psychological force that stops us in our tracks. Whether you are an author hitting a cement-hard writer's block or a spouse at the end of your tether, The War of Art is a tutorial about internal resistance.
Publishers Weekly
Novelist Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance; Gates of Fire) goes self-help in The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. Dubbing itself a cross between Sun-Tzu's The Art of War and Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way, Pressfield's book aims to help readers "overcome Resistance" so that they may achieve "the unlived life within." Whether one wishes to embark on a diet, a program of spiritual advancement or an entrepreneurial venture, it's most often resistance that blocks the way. To kick resistance, Pressfield stresses loving what one does, having patience and acting in the face of fear. (May 21) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Drawing on his many years' experience as a writer, Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance) presents his first nonfiction work, which aims to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel his or her creative energies. The focus is on combating resistance and living the destiny that Pressfield believes is gifted to each person by an all-powerful deity. While certainly of great value to frustrated writers struggling with writer's block, Pressfield's highly personal philosophy, soundly rooted in his own significant life challenges, has merit for anyone frustrated in fulfilling his or her life purpose. Successful photographer Ulrich (photography chair, Art Inst. of Boston; coeditor, The Visualization Manual) explores the creative impulse and presents an approach to developing creativity that, like Pressfield's, will be relevant to artists and others. He identifies and explains seven distinct stages of the creative process: discovery and encounter, passion and commitment, crisis and creative frustration, retreat and withdrawal, epiphany and insight, discipline and completion, and responsibility and release. He also develops his view of the three principles of the creative impulse, which include creative courage, being in the right place at the right time, and deepening connections with others. Rooted in Eastern philosophy, Ulrich's fully developed treatise nicely updates the solid works of Brewster Ghiselin (The Creative Process), Rollo May (The Courage To Create), and Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way). It also supplements Pressfield's inspirational thoughts on overcoming resistance through introspective questions and practical exercises that further elaborate the creative process. Both books are recommended for public libraries needing additional works on creativity. Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590710036
  • Publisher: Rugged Land
  • Publication date: 6/1/1902
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction
Robert McKee
Bestselling Author of STORY: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
On The War of Art
Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art for me. He undoubtedly wrote it for you too, but I know he did it expressly for me because I hold Olympic records for procrastination. I can procrastinate thinking about my procrastination problem. I can procrastinate dealing with my problem of procrastinating thinking about my procrastination problem. So Pressfield, that devil, asked me to write this foreword against a deadline, knowing that no matter how much I stalled, eventually I'd have to knuckle down and do the work. At the last possible hour I did, and as I leafed through Book One, "Defining the Enemy," I saw myself staring back guilty-eyed from every page. But then Book Two gave me a battle plan; Book Three, a vision of victory; and as I closed The War of Art, I felt a surge of positive calm. I now know I can win this war. And if I can, so can you.

To begin Book One, Pressfield labels the enemy of creativity Resistance, his all-encompassing term for what Freud called the Death Wish-that destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that's actually good. He then presents a rogue's gallery of the many manifestations of Resistance. You will recognize each and every one, for this force lives within us all-self-sabotage, self-deception, self-corruption. We writers know it as "block," a paralysis whose symptoms can bring on appalling behavior.

Some years ago I was as blocked as a Calcutta sewer, so what did I do? I decided to try on all my clothes. To show just how anal I can get, I put on every shirt, pair of pants, sweater, jacket, and sock, sorting them into piles: spring, summer, fall, winter, Salvation Army. Then I tried them on all over again, this time parsing them into spring casual, spring formal, summer casual... Two days of this and I thought I was going mad. Want to know how to cure writer's block? It's not a trip to your psychiatrist. For as Pressfield wisely points out, seeking "support" is Resistance at its most seductive. No, the cure is found in Book Two: "Turning Pro."

Steven Pressfield is the very definition of a pro. I know this because I can't count the times I called the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance to invite him for a round of golf, and although tempted, he declined. Why? Because he was working, and as any writer who has ever taken a backswing knows, golf is a beautifully virulent form of procrastination. In other words, Resistance. Steve packs a discipline forged of Bethlehem steel.

I read Steve's Gates of Fire and Tides of War back-to-back while traveling in Europe. Now, I'm not a lachrymose guy; I hadn't cried over a book since The Red Pony, but these novels got to me. I found myself sitting in caf├ęs, choking back tears over the selfless courage of those Greeks who shaped and saved Western civilization. As I looked beneath his seamless prose and sensed his depth of research, of knowledge of human nature and society, of vividly imagined telling details, I was in awe of the work, the work, all the work that built the foundation of his riveting creations. And I'm not alone in this appreciation. When I bought the books in London, I was told that Steve's novels are now assigned by Oxford history dons who tell their students that if they wish to rub shoulders with life in classical Greece, read Pressfield.

How does an artist achieve that power? In the second book Pressfield lays out the day-by-day, step-by-step campaign of the professional: preparation, order, patience, endurance, acting in the face of fear and failure-no excuses, no bullshit. And best of all, Steve's brilliant insight that first, last, and always, the professional focuses on mastery of the craft.

Book Three, "The Higher Realm," looks at Inspiration, that sublime result that blossoms in the furrows of the professional who straps on the harness and plows the fields of his or her art. In Pressfield's words: "When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us...we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete." On this, the effect of Inspiration, Steve and I absolutely agree. Indeed, stunning images and ideas arrive as if from nowhere. In fact, these seemingly spontaneous flashes are so amazing, it's hard to believe that our unworthy selves created them. From where, therefore, does our best stuff come?

It's on this point, however, the cause of Inspiration, that we see things differently. In Book One Steve traces Resistance down its evolutionary roots to the genes. I agree. The cause is genetic. That negative force, that dark antagonism to creativity, is embedded deep in our humanity. But in Book Three he shifts gears and looks for the cause of Inspiration not in human nature, but on a "higher realm." Then with a poetic fire he lays out his belief in muses and angels. The ultimate source of creativity, he argues, is divine. Many, perhaps most readers, will find Book Three profoundly moving.

I, on the other hand, believe that the source of creativity is found on the same plane of reality as Resistance. It, too, is genetic. It's called talent: the innate power to discover the hidden connection between two things-images, ideas, words-that no one else has ever seen before, link them, and create for the world a third, utterly unique work. Like our IQ, talent is a gift from our ancestors. If we're lucky, we inherit it. In the fortunate talented few, the dark dimension of their natures will first resist the labor that creativity demands, but once they commit to the task, their talented side stirs to action and rewards them with astonishing feats. These flashes of creative genius seem to arrive from out of the blue for the obvious reason: They come from the unconscious mind. In short, if the Muse exists, she does not whisper to the untalented.

So although Steve and I may differ on the cause, we agree on the effect: When inspiration touches talent, she gives birth to truth and beauty. And when Steven Pressfield was writing The War of Art, she had her hands all over him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2003

    War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

    The $13 billion consulting firm, Accenture, is currently telling us through its television ads "Because It's Not How Many Ideas You Have -- It's How Many You Make Happen." ****** "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield,gives us the key -- on a day-to-day basis, for making those ideas happen -- whether you be writer, artist, high-tech entrepreneur, salesperson, school teacher, medical researcher, or investment banker-- whatever it is you do or want to do. ***** The myth of creativity is that it is glamorous and can come about randomly by laying around on the sofa all day long. It is not glamourous nor easy. It is hard work, day-in and day-out. As Mr. Pressfield puts it, " . . .the Muse favors working stiffs. She hates prima donnas." ***** Mr. Pressfield, author of "The Legend of Bagger Vance" gives us the wisdom of putting one foot in front of the other every single day and outlining the traits of a real professional -- and a complete individual who lives up to his or her potential. It is so simple that it is profound. ***** This book should be /could be the platform for sound training and development in the business community -- especially as we continue to look for ways to increase productivity and nurture the most precious resource of any serious business --its people. ***** If you are a parent, student, professional, entreprenuer, artist, athlete, CEO, Executive or Middle Manager, or retired person, this book is worth reading -- and not just once. ***** I learned a number of years ago that if you want to create a habit or eliminate an undesirable one, it takes about six weeks of consistent, habitual behavior. ***** If you want to jump start a lasting positive direction for your life or endeavor I recommend setting aside 2 hours each week for six weeks to read Mr. Pressfield's gem cover-to-cover. Six weeks. 2 hours. 12 hours total to get out of whatever rut you are in and become excellent. If you are not in a rut -- read it anyway. You just might learn that you have not tapped your own potential --opening new doors of opportunity and fulfillment. ***** It is not hard for me to envision firms like Nike, Accenture, Starbucks, Apple, the top Venture Capital Firms and others, once they discover "The War of Art," to begin using the book as one component in their training and development programs. Owners of entreprenuerial firms and individuals who round up a copy of this book will actually be enhancing the investment they have already made in themselves. ***** Word of caution: Just as the act of breathing does not belong to any particular brand of religion or faith, the wisdom Mr. Pressfield concisely arranges for us in "The War of Art" belongs to all of us, regardless of our personal faith or religious beliefs. All of us --with no exceptions. Keep your faith and excel. ***** Like Accenture rightly says, . . . It's Not How Many Ideas You Have -- It's How Many You Make Happen. ***** Greg Ford Houston, Texas

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2003

    War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

    As the owner of my own successful business, started from scratch almost 16 years ago, I fully appreciate the wisdom and day-to-day practicality The War of Art. The book is straight-forward, concise, and pulls no punches. I imagine the author, Steven Pressfield, did not write The War of Art with the business world in mind. It doesn't matter. Truth is truth, and if you want to succeed in business without taking unnecessary risks or steps that lead to long-drawn out frustration, invest the money you would spend at the coffee shop for the next five days in a copy of The War of Art.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2002

    i had to ask my uncle to leave me at the bookstore for a while...

    i was browsing some new photography books and came to see this very interestingly-covered pocket-sized one and started browsing it. 'now ide be b**ch! this aint no photography book?'...but i started reading it and just read and read...till i had to actually finish the book...oh by the way, i had to call to my uncle whose suppose to pick me up after 15 minutes to just give me the rest of the evening in bookstore; & when asked y, i told them i met a very good old friend of mine that i havent seen in years and had to acyually sit & stay for more coffee and talk. im a tourist in texas though, and the 'war of art' has an amazing personal effect on telling who the real enemy is. brilliant!

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