I recently read the book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book is a quick read (165 short pages), and so made it easy for me to accomplish my goal of reading one book per month. This book was such a quick read in fact, that I have now finished 2 books for the month of April! I'm on fire…
My younger brother, who has a couple of self-published books on Amazon, recommended that I check out the Steven Pressfield book. So, while this book is primarily written by an author for other authors or creative people, I think it can help entrepreneurs and other do just what the subtitle says, “break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.
A Quick Overview of the Book
Overall, the book is more motivational as opposed to teaching any particular skill or even telling a story. Although Steven Pressfield does give some personal anecdotes about his own struggles with writing, odd jobs he's worked, and more. Its the kind of book that perhaps you would never pick up and become entranced by the story, but on the other hand it is the kind of book you could randomly pick up, read a paragraph, and feel a bit more motivated to pursue your endeavors.
For example, here's a quick couple of sentences from the beginning of the book to give you an idea of the type of book it is, “There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write.” (I personally just replace “real writers” with “real entrepreneurs”, etc to apply business owners and creators in general).
The book is broken down into 3 Parts:
- Book One: Resistance – Defining the Enemy
- Book Two: Combating Resistance – Turning Pro
- Book Three: Beyond Resistance – Higher Realm
In Book One: Resistance, Pressfield basically destroys ever reason you've ever rationalized for not getting something done. Accomplishing your goals (creative, business, or otherwise) is a battle. You are fighting resistance. And this resistance is manifested in all kinds of ways; procrastination, criticizing others, fear, depression, and many others. Here's a small gem from the first section of the book:
Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
In Book Two: Combating Resistance, the author delves deeper into how to overcome resistance and to truly become a pro. “The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time. That's what I mean when I say turning pro. Resistance hates it when we turn pro.” This section covers more motivational tips for overcoming resistance and truly dedicating yourself to your “craft”.
Finally, in Book Three: Beyond Resistance – Higher Realm, Pressfield talks more about some of the intangible things that can work in your favor – forces that you can tap into to help you accomplish things. These forces acts as the antithesis of Resistance; and he uses words like, muse, angels, love, magic, dreams, ego, life, death, and more.
This section is all about tapping into that “Higher Realm”. The book finishes with this:
Creative work is not a selfish act of a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.
I think the book is good for what it was written for: a motivational book for anyone involved in creating anything. Is it a good story? No. Does it teach you a valuable skill? Not really. Will it help you overcome your inner battles and get you back to work? Probably.
So, this book has to be read with the knowledge that its not really written like other books. You could consume this book in a couple of days; but you could also just open it up randomly and get some unique thoughts that might change how you view your current situation.
Overall, I really liked the book. Steven Pressfield hit on a lot of “resistance” points that I face when sitting down to write a blog post, build a new niche site, or improve my own business in some way. Being able to view resistance for what it is (part of an ongoing battle), helps me understand that its not just me…but others also experience the same things!
If you have any thoughts you would like to add, please do so below.