Friday, April 01, 2011

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

To be fair, this is another partial review as I was unable to finish reading this book. That said, I will probably buy this book.

"The War of Art - Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle" by Stephen Pressfield ("The Legend of Beggar Vance") is a short book. Like most of the books I read, I added it it to my reading list at some point in the past, most likely as a recommendation from Fast Company, Inc., Reader's Digest or Entertainment Weekly. Or maybe from an RSS feed like Lifehacker or Unclutterer. Maybe I should start tracking that.

The copy I had was about 160 pages or so, a small 5-1/2x8" paperback filled with short essays that rarely took a full page. The boom is divided into three "books"

Book One: Resistance - Defining the Enemy
Book Two: Combatting Resistance - Turning Pro
Book Three: Beyond Reisistance - Higher Realm

Books one and two are amazing. The kind that has led to some soul searching and some "aha!" moments. Not to mention some validation of things I already know and some good swift kicks in the pants for things I know I ought to be doing but aren't.

Pressfield sets up Resistsnce (capital R) as a force that's out to kill you, especially when it comes to creativity or thought or passion. He slowly builds the compelling case against resistance by showing you how it works, showing you it's motivation and showing you just how effective it is.

"Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. It aims to kill. It's target is the epicenter of our being: our being, our soul, the unique and priceless gifts we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death."

Once we've clearly identified the enemy, Pressfield sets about helping up to see how to fight it. We are not amateurs or hobbyists. If we are to be successful, be it as an artist, or creator, an innovator or even someone running a business, we must be serious, we must be professionals, we must be in it for the long haul, and we must know how to defeat Resistance.

These two books alone are worth the cost of admission. I got my copy from the library, but like I said, I think it may purchase a copy.

It's that third book, however, that gives me trouble. Pressfield dives into the positive side - the origination of ideas and inspiration. To boil it down, he seems to suggest that the muses of Greek mythology give us ideas and Angels sent by God breathe life and encouragement into those ideas, cheering us on, giving us visions and dreams to help us. Even going so far as to identify a prayer to the muse he says each morning when he sits down to write.

I could not get into this and did not finish reading the book. So perhaps I'm misinterpreting or misunderstanding. But way too "out there for me.". The essays also grow longer in this book. This may mean the subject matter more complex, less concrete, or it simply means the lack of crispness and concise writing means a topic the author is less sure of or feels requires more thought to sell it.

So, Thw War of Art will make you think. And in part, I really recommend it.
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